Fresh off an impressive goal in the Community Shield and subsequent performances in the first two league games, it seems like the Ox had finally earned the attention he should have received a while ago. Already a fan favorite, the work he has put in week in and week out had saved the pride of the club at multiple occasions (of course, most recent being against Londonites – Chelsea). A Southampton academy player, a Chamberlain family footballer and another exciting prospect – or a completed prospect, we can confidently say that he has proven his credentials.
Alexander Mark David “Alex” Oxlade-Chamberlain joined the highly admired academy of Saints very early in life (7), while making his debut at the age of 16 – the club’s second youngest player to play after current Gunner Theo Walcott. In 2011, Arsenal came in knocking with an opportunity to play alongside the best and under the guidance of one the greatest managers in English football. Though, his debut came in the form of a humiliating defeat against Manchester United, his second was much better, in the 3 – 1 cup victory over Shrewsbury Town. He instantly came under the spotlight for his long range stunner – his first of many more we would see. Yet, the major breakthrough had not yet come for the England winger. Alex was still a young inexperienced wonder boy with a name no one cared to absorb…
Performances in the Champions League drew praises and applauds from pundits outside UK, after all not a lot of 18-year-old’s get called out for scoring in Europe’s famed competition. And so the dream began, he kept scoring, assisting, entertaining the spectators and possibly a crucial first team player for Arsenal, at the mere age of 22. To think that the Rugby Union almost took this player away from the game, offering him a trial, scares me! A huge ‘’thank you’’ to Southampton for not letting this happen.
Getting to the point, can he be called “World Class”?
The sentiments ‘’world class’’ and ‘’one of the greats’’ have been loosely thrown around, much too commonly these days, without care to who they refer to. Zidane was world class; he was one of the best, Pogba however? Not so sure. He is already being compared to Zidane? No way. Of course, he has got the potential to become the best, but he is not there yet. Not in the league of names such as Lionel Messi, Zidane, Raul, etc.
There are certain criteria one has to pass in order to be deemed ‘’world class’’.
Starting off with the experience – Though there are multitude of players who have fallen under the century club within their respective clubs all across the world, the experience being referred to here is that at the highest level. And it does not get any higher than the English Premier League. Now, one may argue, experience earned playing at a national level could be considered as experience: for example, a player with 50 caps for Sweden compared to one with 50 caps for Guam, can be considered at the same level. Well, not really and for obvious reasons, which deserves its own discussion.
Oxlade has the experience, but not enough, after all he is still 22 – but if he continues to perform in the EPL consistently for the next few years, he will among the experienced in the Arsenal squad in no time, hence, we won’t have to worry about that!
Next, you have to prove yourself at the international stage, be it with the national team or continental tournaments. Alex’s domestic pedigree is ramping up. But he is yet to announce himself in the World Cup? Well, some might say, ‘so does Messi’, but Messi is at a different level altogether. His name needs to be engraved in the minds of the faithful, neutrals and the opposition, for being the main reason behind the club’s positive season. He has not yet reached that level as of yet. However, some of the names I mentioned have done so at national and international level.
Now you may question why are the comparisons already being made if the lad is merely 22? That is primarily because of the type of talent and potential he comes with. The beast inside him grows with every season; all he needs is inspiration, motivation and the hunger to succeed. Who else better than Arsene Wenger? He has done it before, Robin Van Persie, Henry, Bergkamp and he can do it again, the perfect chance to create a monster. The stage is set.
All that being said, the question remains as to whether Wenger can tame the Ox?
Just to answer the last question – I think Oxy could not have asked for any better manager than Wenger to guide him through his developmental process at Emirates. I believe in a few years time he is going to be among the reckoned. I see a Bale in him.