Whatever Unai Emery manages to achieve during this transfer window, Arsenal will receive defensive reinforcements of some description next season.
That’s because loanees are set to return to The Emirates as the new kick-off nears, and with the defence likely to be Emery’s primary concern as he looks to rebuild his side in the off-season, the fortunes of his defenders out on loan last year may give him an unlikely source of comfort as we enter the business end of the transfer window.
While the likes of Krystian Bielik have impressed at a lower level, Calum Chambers’ progress at Fulham was arguably more striking despite his side’s relegation – as the on-loan Gunner was named their player of the year in a dismal season at Craven Cottage.
And with a fair amount of first-team experience at the Emirates Stadium already under his belt, a potentially rejuvenated Chambers could be exactly what Emery will be looking for to replenish his sub-par defence.
Also a defensive-midfield option, Chambers’ versatility could give Emery the freedom to rotate in more than one area – or alternatively take more risks with the more high-profile players (your Granit Xhakas or Lucas Torreiras, for example) in the knowledge a safe option lies in reserve when the gruelling demands of the season inevitably take their toll.
It’s not too far-fetched to suggest Chambers can just waltz back into the Arsenal defence – it is the Arsenal defence, after all. If he can stand out at Fulham to that degree – why not an ageing and lacklustre Gunners backline?
Not so long ago he was bursting onto the scene as an £18.2m signing from Southampton – but having seen his opportunities dwindle following his debut season, perhaps it’s no surprise he has not been able to nail down a starting place at Arsenal.
But he has proved himself as a competent tackler, defensive blockade and an occasional goal threat during his intermittent Premier League career, and perhaps the run of games he enjoyed at Fulham will prove to be the foundation he required to stake a claim for a long-term run in the Arsenal team.
Given his season that may have exceeded expectations last term, Chambers may become a surprise inclusion for next year should his services be deemed required by manager Emery – who is yet to give the centre-back a run-out in Arsenal colours since joining the club.
So do not be alarmed by a potential comeback for him next season – it won’t be a case of Emery clutching at straws as he looks to save Arsenal’s ailing defensive unit. Rather, Chambers will be returning hungry and determined to prove his worth to the Gunners in the team’s hour of need.