Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been advised to leave north London for Chelsea in the January transfer window. The 22-year-old has been linked with a move to the Premier League champions as a replacement for Eden Hazard but former England international Ray Wilkins believes Oxlade-Chamberlain should leave in time to impress before the 2016 European Championships in the summer.
The Sun understands that The Blues are tracking the former Southampton winger to cover for the potential loss of Hazard – who will wait to discover the identity of the club's next manager before making a decision over his future. The Daily Mail reported on Wednesday [6 January] that Hazard was preparing to leave Stamford Bridge with both Real Madrid and Paris Saint Germain circling.
Despite the report in the British tabloid alluding to Oxlade-Chamberlain leaving Arsenal at the end of the season, Wilkins has advised the player to consider departing in January ahead of Euro 2016. Another injury-ravaged season has seen him restricted to just six Premier League starts, and with Raheem Sterling and Theo Walcott representing his competition to be selected in Roy Hodgson's England squad, Oxlade-Chamberlain has been warned over delaying any possible departure.
"I would say to Oxlade-Chamberlain: leave, I really would," Wilkins told Talksport of the Arsenal man. "We've [England] got these massive Championships coming up in the summer and he needs to be playing football. I love him. He's very positive and he's quick. I think you could even play him in a midfield three as well because he can go past people and eliminate people from the game.
"He's a super young player and I like him immensely. Many moons ago people use to vie him against Theo [Walcott] and that would be the natural assumption, but my preference is Oxlade-Chamberlain."
Speculation regarding Oxlade-Chamberlain's future at Arsenal was put to manager Arsene Wenger ahead of the FA Cup tie against Sunderland; which the Frenchman firmly rebuked. The player's contract still has two-and-a-half years to run and he remains a key member of the Gunners first team, even if his fitness often prevents him from making the desired impact.