Arsene Wenger did not hold back when praising Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain this week.
Not only did he hail the progress the former Southampton man has made in the past 12 months, he even tipped him to go on and become England’s brightest star over the next three years.
“I’m convinced he will be the English player everyone will look at,” said the Arsenal boss.
“I rate him highly, he is a player who is on his way up. In the last year he has made huge progress.”
High praise indeed from a manager who is clearly trying to make a very public point to a player whose future remains up in the air.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has just one year left on his deal at Arsenal and so far he has shown no sign of signing an extension.
Wenger wants him to stay, as you would expect from the comments he made to the press on Wednesday, but the player is believed to be seriously considering his options – with Chelsea very keen to take him across London.
Wenger insists Oxlade-Chamberlain will not be sold and that he hopes he will be able to persuade the player that his future is best served at the Emirates.
The problem Wenger faces, however, when trying to deal with the situation is that Oxlade-Chamberlain is far from a guaranteed starter at Arsenal.
In fact, if everyone is fit and available, it’s tough to see where he fits into the side – with Wenger clearly feeling Hector Bellerin is his preferred choice at right wing-back.
This weekend represents a real dilemma for Wenger. With Aaron Ramsey back and more importantly with Per Mertesacker and Shkodran Mustafi available, he has some major decisions to make.
If the two Germans are reinstated within the back three, then impressive summer signing Sead Kolasinac will surely be moved into his favoured left wing-back role.
That is where Oxlade-Chamberlain started in the Community Shield and against Leicester, so all of a sudden he is facing up to having to take a place on the bench.
For Wenger, having to drop a player he is trying to persuade to stay at the club is hardly ideal – especially with Chelsea preparing what is believed to be a very sizeable offer for someone with under 12 months left on their deal.
Arsenal’s stance on the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil is admirable and it goes in the face of how the club is usually viewed when it comes to handling financial issues.
But while the latter two while be guaranteed starters throughout the rest of the season the same can’t be said of Oxlade-Chamberlain.
It presents a difficult situation for Wenger, one that he will have to manage well if he wants to have any chance of getting the former Southampton man to extend his stay in north London.
Should Arsenal cash in on Ox? Let us know by leaving a comment below