The Mirror doesn’t provide good reading for Southampton fans today, with one of the south-coast overachievers’ former prodigies reportedly being moved on to make way for arguably their biggest current asset.
Premier League champions Leicester are thought to be ‘planning a raid’ on Arsenal for perma-crocked 22-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who left St Mary’s for the Emirates in a £12m deal five years ago, when Saints were still a League One club.
Injuries and losses have form have restricted ‘The Ox’ to just 100 appearances in 190 Premier League matches since, with the 22-year-old managing just nine top-flight starts in the season just past.
Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez and even Alex Iwobi all appear preferred to Oxlade-Chamberlain in wide positions, ahead of what’s likely to be a summer of steady spending by Arsene Wenger, while Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Mohamed Elneny stand in the way of a spot in midfield.
A move to the champs could suit all parties, as Oxlade-Chamberlain would face a stiff challenge breaking into a tightly-knit, Champions League-bound team that needs someone of the 24-cap England man’s experience knocking on the door, although his injury record could cause friction over the fee.
The Mirror goes onto claim Wenger is clearing Oxlade-Chamberlain out in order to make way for Southampton’s Senegalese sizzler Sadio Mane, scorer of 21 goals from the wing during his first two Premier League campaigns, including the fastest hat-trick the competition has ever seen against Aston Villa 12 months ago.
Mane has been linked with Manchester United in the past, with The Mirror suggesting £17m from the Gunners might secure his services this summer. Seems low.
In other Arsenal related news, The Mirror states ‘Wenger has joined the list of managers keen on Leicester’s France international N’Golo Kante’, which is just shameless filling up of space from journo Steve Stammers.
Cheer up Saints fans, Mail on Sunday believe you’ll be shelling out £12m for Anderlecht’s Dennis Praet, although 15 goals in his last three Belgian Jupiler League campaigns suggests he wouldn’t quite make up for Mane’s loss.