A bizarre report in today’s Daily Mail suggests that Arsenal starlet Alex Oxlade Chamberlain only makes late substitute appearances to keep the club’s accountants happy.
In his piece, journalist Neil Ashton claims that a clause in the England international’s contract means the Gunners have to pay his former club Southampton £10,000 every time he plays for more than 20 minutes.
And it seems the club’s penny-pinching reputation is well-deserved when it comes to the Oxlade Chamberlain deal.
Incredibly a trend emerged, with Wenger bringing him off the bench after 72 minutes (v Stoke), 73 minutes (Liverpool), 72 minutes (Coventry), 65 minutes (Norwich), 76 minutes (Fulham), 86 minutes (Tottenham), 67 minutes (Swansea), 73 minutes (West Ham), 71 minutes (Swansea), and 75 minutes (Reading).
Ashton claims that Arsene Wenger is aware of the clause and deliberately times the 20-year-old’s appearances to save the club money.
The clause became common knowledge among Arsenal staff when the Saints started demanding the payments for matches in which injury time had taken the Ox past the magic 20 minute mark.
The Gunners reportedly disputed the bills but eventually agreed to pay-up in those circumstances.
The south-cost club won’t be getting any more payments for the foreseeable future though. Oxlade Chamberlain is ruled out for up to four months with an injury he picked up in the defeat to Aston Villa.