Arsene Wenger says it is vital that Arsenal keep hold of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and warns there would be “big damage” if he left the club.
The midfielder is one of a host of Arsenal players out of contract next summer and spoke earlier this season of his need to play regular football.
The 23-year-old has made 38 appearances for the club this season, although just 12 starts in the Premier League but Wenger is desperate to keep hold of him.
“I personally think it is vital that Chamberlain stays at Arsenal,” Wenger said via The Independent. “We bought him when he was very young, we have built him up and I think he has a great mentality. I like his mentality and he has a good football brain. It would be a big damage for us to lose this kind of player.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain has featured in a central midfield role recently and Wenger has discussed how he feels that this will ultimately become his best position.
“I played him [in central midfield] a few times a few years ago and I think he did well,” he explained. “When I didn’t play Ozil I had to find a combination with him in central midfield.
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“He is offensive. 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. He can penetrate. In midfield that is important.
“I felt as well sometimes on the flank he is out of the game but in the middle he is more focused. He needs to be involved in the game.
“He does not have enough experience in that position. He is a player who likes to take the ball and go at people sometimes. I think that this will get out of his game.
“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.”
While Oxlade-Chamberlain has seen plenty of action recently his future is still uncertain. Arsenal have plenty of options in central midfield and although he has featured more often this season he is still not certain of a place in Wenger’s starting line-up.