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Calum Chambers: Scout Report

Southampton have received a lot of plaudits in recent times for their attractive brand of football – high pressure and slick passing, and the way that they have utilised young English talent. Calum Chambers is one of these talents, but only a few have paid attention to the young full-back from the South Coast. The Saints have an impressive record when it comes to producing future stars, and many believe that Chambers could be the next one.

Who is Calum Chambers?

Calum Chambers is a Southampton boy; 18 years old, 19 later this month (January 20th) and a product of their academy, joining when he was 7 and progressing up from junior levels to U-18, U-21 and now the first team. He is English, and has represented England at both U-17 and U-19 levels, scoring 3 goals in 6 and 2 goals in 14 respectively.

Chambers really made his first team breakthrough this season when, along with Jordan Turnbull, Lloyd Isgrove and Jack Stephens, he was promoted to the first team’s pre-season tour, where he was given the number 28 (now 22) and featured in several friendly games.

Talent Radar Accolades

This season he has featured in the Saints team 10 times in the league, starting 9 games and appearing as a sub once, and has started 2 cup games also; a vast improvement compared to last season when he featured just once, coming off the bench in a cup game to assist Ben Reeves in a 4-1 victory over Stevenage. In his appearances this term, Chambers has yet to score or assist any goals, and has kept only 2 clean sheets, but despite this has gained a fair amount of recognition for his performances, and started the league game against Chelsea even though regular first-team right-back Nathaniel Clyne was fit enough to make the bench.

Calum Chambers featured in our list of 100 Best Young Players to Watch-out for in 2014. He was at #13 in our list of midfielders. See the entire list here.

Strengths, Styles and Weaknesses

The position of Calum Chambers is somewhat of a debate. In all of his league starts, Chambers has featured at right-back, but has been described as “a tall, talented, creative midfielder” by his club. Chambers throughout his senior and youth career has consistently played down the right-hand side,  though it is more so at youth level that he has been deployed in midfield.

Chambers uses his pace to get past Ashley Cole.

Chambers uses his pace to get past Ashley Cole.

 

We’ll look at his strengths first. Pace for sure is one of his assets, an important attribute for both defending and attacking, and he uses it to bomb down the right channel and support the attack – Chambers (circled) follows the modern trend of attacking fullbacks in that sense. In the example depicted above, he displays great acceleration to get past Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole and deliver a testing ball from which Adam Lallana can not profit (arrows), who is no slouch himself. Chambers regularly exploits the space created by the narrowness of Southampton’s midfield which leaves him one-on-one with the opposition left-back or in acres of space, and then get crosses into the box which cause danger and create chances for attacking teammates.

Chambers is also relatively tall for a wide man or full-back; standing at 6 foot. This allows him to challenge aerially for the ball where other players in his position may not. His height also means that he is quite a powerful player. Along with his pace, his strength and build means that he often wins 50/50 duels and is able to out-muscle his man with relative ease.

Another positive we can take from watching this youngster is his composure. It is often said that it has become the case now that full-backs are too attacking, not adept defensively and lack the willpower to stay back and help the defense. This is not the case with young Chambers, who can regularly be seen alongside his centre backs when he’s needed. His passing too shows his maturity and skill. An attack minded player, 61% of his passes have been forward, and rarely does he attempt wishful long passes or punts up the field, recording only ten inaccurate long passes thus far. Although he has only a 75% pass completion rate, Chambers’ passing can be seen as an asset to himself and his teammates. His maturity can also be seen from the fact that he is captain of the England U-19s.

His weaknesses are few in number, but they are apparent. For being so tall and able to challenge aerially as aforementioned, he wins surprisingly few of his headed duels, racking up only 18 out 34 successful headers, a 53% win rate. If Chambers was able to work on this, his height and aerial prowess would enable him to be an extremely good all-round defender, and extend his versatility; his height, strength and pace means that he would make a good central defender.

Whilst offensively he is sound, defensively he is a bit hit and miss. Tackling wise he’s only been successful in 56% of his endeavours, and also committed 20 fouls. It’s definitely something that Chambers should work on if he is to keep playing as a defender, and even as a wide midfielder it is becoming increasingly necessary to have defensive abilities, just ask the Chelsea attackers. In the example shown above, he commits himself and desperately tries to poke the ball, leaving himself exposed should the attacker look for a free-kick or get him into space. A defender with experience would understand the importance of not committing, and just jockeying the opponent until further support arrives or he grows frustrated.

Although his pace is a very useful asset, Chambers needs to combine this with the ability to dribble past and beat his man. As he continues to feature in the first team, he will come up against players who can match him for pace, and thus needs to be able to improve his record of 43% successful take-ons and have some tricks up his sleeve, especially if he is to play in midfield.

If Chambers is to become a top class player, he needs to improve on his ability to win the ball for his team. Though not naturally a defender, Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino is consistently playing him at right-back, so he needs to adapt his game to suit this role in order to get more first team games. Undoubtedly he has potential, but for now he continues to be Nathaniel Clyne’s understudy, so maybe a loan move to a lower tier Premier League club where he can play week in week out might be best for furthering his development.

Peer Talk

“It didn’t look like it fazed him one little bit. First game of the season in the Premier League, and it was his (league) debut. Full credit to the lad. He’s another young lad coming through who looks like he has got an absolutely superb future.”

Rickie Lambert

“He is a quality player, he has learned well”

Nathaniel Clyne

“He did well. He was away with us for 18 days and I was surprised how he handled it. It’s hard for anyone to be away for 18 days, but for a young lad it must be very hard, and he’s done terrific. He made a good impression on all the lads and, obviously, the manager.”

Rickie Lambert, speaking after pre-season.

“I thought he did very well, down the right. It was a very mature performance … and it just proves again that Saints keep producing this young talent and it’s credit to him – a great performance.”

Adam Lallana, speaking after the 1-0 victory over West Brom in August

Expert Talk

”When your manager names a relatively heard of 18 year old right back in the starting line-up on the opening day of the season it comes of something of a surprise. In Saints’ case though, we have learnt to trust our Academy and in Calum Chambers that trust was certainly not misplaced. Chambers completed his first team début at the Hawthorns with a clean sheet and an impressively mature performance under his belt. Chambers continued to start until Nathaniel Clyne was fit and has proved a useful deputy. Defensively he is sound, but if fans were critical of anything it was that he didn’t offer the same threat going forward as Clyne. When Saints hit an injury crisis in December they turned to several fringe players including Chambers, and it was only the young right back who shone. Flowing with confidence, Chambers started to get forward more, and put in a sterling showing against Manchester City, reducing Samir Nasri’s involvement to spectator.”

Chris Rann (Writer for ESPN, BetFair, The Metro, and his own site www.georgeweahscousin.com )

This was a guest piece by Luke Bosher. You can follow him on twitter @bosherL

What do you think of Calum Chambers? Let us know by dropping in a comment below. View his SoccerWiki profile here.

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