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Feb, 8, 2011

Saints chief slams Chamberlain pursuit

Southampton chairman Nicola Cortese has hit out at the conduct of certain Premier League clubs over their pursuit of the club's young starlet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

In-demand Oxlade-Chamberlain found himself to be one of the most sought after players of the January transfer window, with Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool all believed to have made overtures for the 17-year-old.

But Cortese has admitted he was taken aback by the behaviour of certain clubs in their efforts to sign Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is set to make his England Under-21 debut against Italy on Tuesday.

"I have experienced a lot of things over the past month about the behaviour of some Premier League clubs," Cortese told the Telegraph. "Some have really behaved well. There has been professionalism and there has been the complete opposite as well.

"Some simply sent a fax. No communication, nothing. It gave the impression that they didn't care about the boy. Those faxes went straight into the bin. The others made a phone inquiry and I said I didn't want to get involved in negotiations."

Cortese confirmed such conduct hampered any chance of a deal being reached. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger went public with his interest in the winger, son of former England international Mark Chamberlain, during the window - a move Cortese cited as one that only harmed the club's chances of agreeing a transfer.

"It definitely did not help their cause," he said. "We focused on what we wanted to do and not what others wanted to do. I was in the driver's seat. There was not a second I doubted that he would stay."

The club now hope their latest young prodigy - following in the footsteps of the likes of Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale - decides to stay with the club beyond the end of the current campaign, when more bids are likely to surface.

"We care about the boy. I believe that for Alex the best place for him to progress over the next 18 months is here," Cortese said.

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