The widely-mooted transfer of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain to Chelsea speaks to the dire situation in which both Arsenal and, more widely, football find themselves in the era of billionaire excess.

That a player on the back of half a good season, and having been enormously unreliable in his preceding six years, feels that he can turn down £180,000-a-week for the hope of a more lucrative deal elsewhere is ludicrous.

There is so much money swilling around in the game now that mediocre players of little real achievement can demand exorbitant sums, knowing full well that if their club doesn’t stump up, they can simply find a better offer elsewhere.

Of course, the days of loyalty, patience, and gratitude are long dead in football – anyone ignorant to this fact is naive in the extreme – but in years gone by players at least had the decency to hide their desire for greater riches.

Now, it seems, players like Chamberlain, Chelsea’s Diego Costa, and the Brazilian Neymar Junior feel as if they can simply stop trying, abscond, and cause an enormous fuss in order to get their way.

While 24-year-old Chamberlain hasn’t been absent without leave, his shambolic performance against Liverpool on Sunday was demonstrative of a player who had placed his own incredibly selfish interests above those of his club.

This seems to be the new standard.

Such is the lure of money, self-aggrandisement, and untold bonus payments that players have dropped all pretence and, with it, any shred of dignity the whole process once had. It is a shameful thing.

Undoubtedly, once his transfer is complete and his wish fulfilled, Chamberlain will attempt to justify his decision with spurious claims about ambition and lack of direction at Arsenal.

While some of that may be true, there can be no denying that it is just as much the responsibility of players to go out and do the business as it is the manager. Arsene Wenger certainly never set his side up to be hammered by five goals by Munich, nor did he ask them to show so little care in their four-goal defeat at Liverpoool.

Chamberlain must take as much of the blame for his role as any other and accept that, in reality, he has seen what money is on offer elsewhere, and well and truly had his head turned.

It is no coincidence that he shares an agent with Raheem Sterling, a player who made no attempt to hide his pursuit of money and the riches of Manchester after a single good season at Liverpool.

The way Arsenal have done business over the years, in a professional and circumspect fashion, is fast becoming a thing of the past. It is old hat and, it would appear, no longer achieves the right results.

As sad as it is, football now is simply a numbers game and, if your offer doesn’t stack up, someone else’s will. The influx of huge amounts of money, both from owners and from TV deals, is to blame for this shift in attitude and, frankly, there is no way to get off this ride. It is hurtling onwards at ever-increasing speeds and shows no signs of slowing.

Players and agents have grown wise to this and play the system to maximum effect. Chamberlain is by no means the first to do so, and he won’t be the last, but he is absolutely typical of the changing way players view their clubs now.

They are traders, selling their goods to the highest bidder. They are transient figures with little care for the institutions they represent and no affinity to anything but their own desires. This is the monster football has created.

Quite how Arsenal will react to the departure of Chamberlain, and the anticipated departures of Lucas Perez, Kieran Gibbs, Shkodran Mustafi and, potentially, Alexis Sanchez remains to be seen but it will have to be decisive and immediate.

If we emerge from this transfer window having lost half-a-dozen players and having actually made a profit, we can look forward to little better than mid-table this season.

It is time we stopped playing nice. It is time for the club to be ruthless in its dealings. The playing field is no longer level and we are at serious risk of irrelevance if we do not move quickly to redress the balance.

Arsene has between now and Thursday night to save the club.

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