Alex Chamberlain. Remember the name. The assembly line at Southampton has given the Premier League players like Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Leon Best and Kenwyne Jones and its latest product is pinging the radar of some of England’s biggest clubs, with reports suggesting that Liverpool are preparing a big money bid. Chamberlain opened the scoring in a 6-0 rout of Oldham on Tuesday night, further impressing the visiting scouts. With less than three weeks before the transfer window shuts, you can expect someone to take a gamble on the 17 year old winger before long.
Manchester United’s assistant manager Mike Phelan was there to assess the Saints in advance of their FA Cup clash but you can bet that he’ll be telling Sir Alex Ferguson all about this young man. Scouts from Arsenal was also in attendance, but the favourites to secure his signature are the Merseysiders, who were represented by Director of Football Damien Comolli.
Reports suggest that Fenway Group are planning to make a statement of intent with a £10m bid for the youngster. It’s an enormous fee for a player who has made just 14 professional starts, but it’s a measure of just how highly he is rated. Lightning fast and capable of playing on the wing or behind the striker, he’s seen as an important part of Liverpool’s future. Southampton fans are in no doubt of the young Chamberlain’s talents. Some rate him higher than Walcott at the same age, others believe that he has the potential to go further than Bale. They are all agreed on one point. He will not be playing for Southampton for very much longer. His team using under armour gloves.
Chamberlain certainly has the genes for success. His father, Mark, was a star of the English game in the 1980s, shining on Stoke City’s wing and making over 500 appearances throughout his career. He even attracted the attention of Bobby Robson as England licked their wounds after the 1982 World Cup, winning 8 caps for his country. His uncle, the unfortunately named Neville Chamberlain, played for Port Vale.
Chamberlain could have been forgiven for actually worrying about his future earlier this season. It was former manager Alan Pardew who gave him his first professional deal, but just 10 days after putting pen to paper, Pardew was sacked. Fortunately, new boss Nigel Adkins saw his potential immediately and Chamberlain continued to represent the first team. With rave reports from the coaching staff ringing in his ears, the youngster began to attract the attention of visiting scouts.
Of course, potential is nothing without hard work, composure and professionalism. If Liverpool are to spend £10m on a 17 year old, it will still represent an enormous gamble. The success of Bale and Walcott will encourage Fenway to loosen the purse strings, but nothing in football is guaranteed. The only person who can make Chamberlain a success at the highest level is Chamberlain himself. He has, by all accounts, the potential. But does he have the drive? Liverpool fans, starved of glory in recent years, will be praying that the answer is yes.