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Calum Chambers Shock Departure From Southampton Cited As Prime Example
Wednesday, 17th Jan 2024 10:33

Callum Chambers left Saints 10 years ago as a promising but inexperienced 19 year old lured by Arsenal's riches, but a decade later it is being claimed this is good evidence of why players should get good grounding before letting their heads be turned.

Football has gone mad these days, back in times gone by, a young footballer would learn his trade at a club like Southampton and then having proved himself, earned that big money move.

But that changed a long time ago, as was seen when Theo Walcott left Saints just before his 17th birthday.

But it has got far worse with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea snapping up promising youngsters from other clubs as they leave school as they look to try and avoid falling foul of the Fair Play rules by selling youngsters in their late teens to generate income.

So today it was interesting to see an article written by The Athletic, that being a subscription media outlet that not many will read, I will refer to TBR Football who have looked at the article in depth.

They say that The Athletic claim that Southampton were shocked when Callum Chambers left for Arsenal in the summer of 2014.

Chambers only appearance for the club's first team had been in a League Cup tie at Stevenage in August 2012, when as a 17 year old he came on as sub for a 6 minute cameo but in 2013/14 he found himself in the first team for the first game of the season replacing the injured Nathan Clyne at right back.

It would be in this position that Chambers would make most of his appearances for Saints that season with Clyne suffering various injury issues.

He would start 18 Premier League games in total plus another 4 off the bench and was seen as a rising star as Saints stormed to an 8th place finish under Mauricio Pochettino.

The summer of 2014 as we all know was one of real turmoil, with many big names in the Southampton team leaving after the controversial departure of Pochettino, but one who was expected to stay and build on the foundations of his first season as a first team squad member was the 19 year of Calum Chambers.

But leave he did for Arsene Wengers' Arsenal and the article claims that is is a good example of a player making a big move too soon in his career.

At Saints he would have learned his trade and when that big move came he would be ready for it, instead looking back on his career he did not have the chance to do that,, he went into a club where his first team chances would be limited and he would gain a reputation as a squad player rather than a first team started.

Bizarrely he would be named in the first England squad after just a handful of games for the Gunners, at Southampton he was never mentioned.

In his 8 seasons at the Emirates he would start just 53 games, 14 of them in his first 4 months at the club, at Xmas 2014 he might have felt that he now had a glittering career ahead as an Arsenal first teamer, but the reality would be far from that.

But by the end of the season he was struggling to get in the squad let alone the team.

In his second year he would start just 2 games plus 10 off the bench and he was now just a squad player, therefore in 2016 the Gunners decided to loan him out to Middlesbrough where he would make 25 appearances , mainly at centre back and when fit he played, but it didn't stop Boro getting relegated.

So back to Arsenal for 2017/18 where injury interrupted his start to the season, but he did have a period in the second half where he was getting a game at Centre back and added another 10 starts to his stats.

Now he was 23 years old and at a crossroads and he was loaned out again to Fulham where he would play most of the season at Centre back making 29 starts and he was voted player of the year, but again it was another relegation season.

But back to Arsenal for hopefully another new start, but here bad luck intervened, he ruptured a cruciate ligament, he returned midway through 20/21 season and again got his chances in the Arsenal team, sometimes at right back and others at centre back, he was now seen as a jack of all trades and master of none.

The 2021/22 season would be his last at the club, at 26 he was no longer seen as a promising youngster or a star for Arsenal, he was just a squad player and rarely getting even on the bench, with his contract up in the summer of 2022, when the January transfer window opened he was allowed to join Aston Villa on a free transfer.

He was far from first choice at Villa Park, starting 11 games, 2 as sub and 10 where he stayed on the bench.

Last season was just as bad, 22 Premier League games where he sat on the bench without getting on the pitch, just 2 starts and 12 off the bench, there were no injury issues, but something had gone badly wrong.

This season has seen him fail to get any game time in the Premier League, he has sat on the bench on 16 occasions and in the other games not even made that.

So turning 29 3 days time his career isn't so much at a crossroads but in a cul de sac.

Where does he go from here, that is anyone's question, but we have a player who has barely started a league game in three years, those years should have seen him at the peak of his career.

Calum Chambers is a Premier League quality player, of that there is no doubt, as Saints fans, ask Middlesbrough & Fulham fans and even Arsenal fans who at times saw glimpses of what he could have become, but by the time he joined Villa he was a shadow of the player he could have become.

So perhaps he is a lesson to those youngsters who in their teens are offered obscene amounts to join a big club, there is no substitute for playing games regularly and learning your trade, the most crucial part of your career is the late teens and going into early twenties, that is when you get your grounding, you make your reputation and then you earn that big money move that will see you as a first team regular.

But try and cut corners and do too much too young and you find that you aren't ready for it and it is hard to get the confidence in your game that enables you to be ready for the game at the very top.

Calum Chambers may feel at 29 he has had a good career and earned a lot of money, but 135 starts in the Premier League plus 41 as sub in the 11 years since he made his League debut for Saints is not a good return, he has not fulfilled his potential.

We will never know that if he had stayed at St Mary's he would have fulfilled that potential, but he would have got the grounding that would have given him a better chance of doing so.

Photo: Action Images

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stmichael added 12:24 - Jan 17
One bad injury and the move and money is gone forever.
That’s why they move so early..
Imagine if Shaw had suffered that broken leg at Southampton.
He may never have made the big time.
In theory I agree with Nick but in reality if you are out injured for a year do you want to be earning £10k a week or a £100k

SaintPaulVW added 13:58 - Jan 17
I agree. Hindsight is always 20:20. Plenty of 'morality tale' tales of feckless footballers who moved 'too early', rarely stories about those whose career ended early due to injury because there is nothing to actually base a football story on.

Any career is a juggling act which you don't have total control over. Good decisions don't always work out that way. Wenger was a good coach, Theo had moved there, Saints were all change again. Factor in a big wage rise - who wouldn't be really tempted in that situation?


TimSaint added 14:28 - Jan 17
Wasn't it Matt Mills or Ollie Lancashire that got the same agent as Jon Terry and thought it would shoehorn them straight into the England squad ?

Look how it turned out for both of them. Similar in a way, but at least Chambers has only been with Prem and Champ teams !!

underweststand added 14:55 - Jan 17
Chambers was part of the most successful Academy generation that we have ever had along with; Stephens, JWP, McQueen, Reed, Shaw and Targett ..(have I missed anyone) and I was surprised that Pochettino was happy to let him go..or was it because Cortese wanted the money? ..but moving to a club like Arsenal, with a manager like Wenger would have been a dream move for any teenager ( CC was 19 at the time).
I was even more surprised when he leapfrogged a line of senior pro's and got several England caps shortly afterwards, but in the final analysis his lack of experience in a squad packed with top rate internationals proved too much. We know that almost everyone looks good in a good side, I fear he has suffered the same fate in his subsequent moves, and is perhaps just ....not quite good enough for that level.

Jesus_02 added 23:03 - Jan 17

How your memory has been fogged by Nicks anti Cortese rhetoric. 2014-15 was when Cortese left and and we sold;

Rickie Lambert
Adam Lallana
Dejan Lovren
Luke Shaw,
Calum Chambers,
Billy Sharp,

We also loaned out;
Dani Osvaldo,
Jordan Turnbull,
Jos Hooiveld,
Gastón Ramírez,
Jake Sinclair,
Jack Stephens,
Artur Boruc.

Incoming manager Ronald Koeman tweeted a picture of an empty staplewood

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