Wenger: "It is vital the Ox stays"

Arsene Wenger has stressed how important it will be for winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to stay at Arsenal.

Speaking to the press ahead of Arsenal’s must-win game against fellow London side Crystal Palace, Wenger spoke of his desire to keep Chamberlain at Arsenal.

Wenger said: “I personally think it is vital that Chamberlain stays at Arsenal. We bought him when he was very young, we have built him up and I think he has a great mentality and a good football brain."

The rumour mill turns

Chamberlain’s current deal with Arsenal expires in the summer of 2018, and rumours have recently been rampant that the English winger will leave the Gunners, with some outlets reporting that Chamberlain has told friends he intends to leave Arsenal this summer.

The 23-year-old winger has enjoyed his best season at the North London club this term, making 24 appearances in the Premier League and scoring twice for the Gunners, and the Englishman has found himself thriving in the central midfield position with the absence of Santi Cazorla, and Wenger believes the Ox has a future in this role despite the wealth of quality in this position.

A versatile player

“He can lose balls but defensively he is strong in the challenge when he wants to switch on. He has that kind of robustness to deal with body-to-body which is very important in the Premier League.

“When I didn't play Özil I had to find a combination with Alex in central midfield. He is offensive and you can see as well he is a guy who can get out of pressure. He has a dribbling skill and acceleration that can get you out of pressure.

Chamberlain has played in a multitude of positions for Arsenal this season. Whilst the Southampton academy product is normally utilised as a right midfielder, the England international has been deployed as a central midfielder, and left midfielder, and as a defensive midfielder too.