London - Arsene Wenger wants to turn new acquisition Calum Chambers into an Arsenal middle man.
The Gunners have signed the teenager on a five-year contract from Southampton in a deal that could cost up to £16million. Chambers, 19, made the breakthrough at St. Mary’s as a right-back - but Wenger feels he has the attributes to play through the middle, as either a centre-back or defensive midfielder.
The Arsenal manager thinks Chambers has the technical ability and intelligence to be shifted inside and wants to nurture the youngster in those roles during the coming months.
Chambers is likely to start his Gunners career as understudy to first-choice right-back Mathieu Debuchy, but Wenger has already held extensive discussions with his coaching team about his plans to utilise Chambers centrally.
The Arsenal manager was at the forefront of the club’s move for Chambers, having identified the youngster as a target towards the end of last year.
Wenger is still on the look out for a midfield anchor, but Chambers’ versatility, coupled with Wenger’s plans to try Jack Wilshere in the position, lessens the need for a midfield purchase.
Chambers’ arrival could also lead to Thomas Vermaelen - who is wanted by Manchester United - leaving the Emirates Stadium.
Chambers said: ‘I am so happy to be signing for Arsenal. They are a team I have much admired for their playing style, and a team who have been one of the top sides in Europe for many years.
‘I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone at Southampton FC for everything they have done for me and for making this move possible.’
Wenger added: ‘We are very pleased that Calum has agreed to join us. The way he adapted to the Premier League last season at a young age shows that he has tremendous quality.
‘He has a lot of the attributes that we look for in a young player and I am sure that he will do well with us.’
Meanwhile, fit-again midfielder Abou Diaby admits he considered retiring last season. Diaby, 28, played just 16 minutes of the final Premier League game of the season against Norwich, after recovering from a serious knee injury sustained in the 2012/13 campaign.
The Frenchman said: ‘Did I consider quitting? Yes, sometimes it crossed my mind, but my love of football is so big that I just couldn’t quit. I am still young and, now that I have an opportunity to play again, I want to take it.’