Arsene Wenger has confirmed that defender Calum Chambers will remain at the club, despite rumours of a loan switch back to Southampton.
The news comes following rumours of a possible exit for the defender, who has struggled to pick up regular playing time during his first season with the Gunners.
Competition has been tough for the centre back role, and Chambers’ plans weren’t helped by the January capture of Gabriel Paulista.
However, Wenger has now assured the 20-year-old will play a big part this season, after Southampton had a bid rejected for their former man.
Speaking ahead of Arsenal’s Community Shield tie with Chelsea, the boss reassured the fans that the defender will be utilised in a sole position at centre back.
I want to develop him as a centre back.
He will get games at Arsenal.
Chambers linked up with Wenger at the beginning of last season after leaving the club he grew up with.
The England international emerged from the Saints academy from an early age, gaining vital experience whilst playing for almost every youth side on the national stage.
However, Chambers was unable to make an impact in this years Under-21 European Championships following a lack of club appearances towards the end of the season.
Gabriel Paulista instantly came in as the favoured back-up in the defensive role, leaving Arsenal fans bemused as to whether Chambers had a future at the Emirates.
But Wenger’s comments suggest he will now work with the youngster as an out and out central defender, which will surely leave him as a strong candidate to replace Per Mertesacker in the coming years.
Both Mertesacker and his long-term partner, Laurent Koscielny, are into their 30’s now and appearances will be up for grabs.
That leaves Chambers with a realistic chance of winning his place and more importantly, the support of the fans.
We’ve been wondering exactly where his best position lies, having already covered the right full-back and central defensive midfield areas on a couple of occasions.
Chambers made 28 starts in all competitions last season, and it will be those sort of figures he will want to improve on.
Rivalling Gabriel is something he has to do this year, when the inevitable happens and Mertesacker suffers a long-term injury.
Arsenal also have Isaac Hayden waiting to make his breakthrough, so there is plenty of competition amongst the back line, something we’ve been missing over the last few seasons.
Chambers will now turn his attention to this weekends Community Shield game at Wembley.