FOR as long as I can remember Liverpool have been linked with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, writes DAN VINCENT. Way back in 2011 when he was just a kid making waves at Southampton, Liverpool were one of a number of clubs apparently chasing him before he signed for Arsenal.
Fast forward to summer 2017 and with respected voices like Jonathan Northcroft saying that Oxlade-Chamberlain is a key target for Liverpool, confirming that Jürgen Klopp is an admirer, it looks as if he could be a real possibility for Liverpool and I for one couldn’t be happier.
I’m excited by the prospect of Oxlade-Chamberlain for all the right reasons and below I’m going to try and convince you to get in the ‘Chamberlain is boss’ camp, if you aren’t already. And no, I’m not his secret arl fella or agent.
There’s a lot of talk about him being a player that hasn’t fulfilled his potential but this a 23-year-old lad. He could come in, sign a five-year deal and still only be in his peak years towards the end of that contract. He has all the attributes to become a fantastic player under the guidance of Klopp. Quick, strong, aggressive, energetic; perfect for how Klopp wants to play.
Another major asset is his ability to play in a number of positions. This is a lad who, although predominantly an attacking player, played a major role for Arsenal towards the back end of last season as a right wing back, picking up a number of man of the match awards and starring in their FA Cup final win. He could also play across the midfield three, wide left and wide right. While that’s all well and good and could be handy in times of need, to get the best out of any player you need to play them regularly in a set position, that in the case of Oxlade-Chamberlain would be in the middle of the park.
Last month he said: “On a personal level I really enjoy playing in midfield. The time I played there this year I enjoyed it and thought, this is where I want to be able to play moving forward. Maybe that is my main ambition to end up playing there. But I think it’s a tricky one to nail me down to one position still. Because my attributes, they do go hand in hand with playing out wide as well. And I think it just depends what the best fit for the team is. But I think long-term, I’d hope that I end up playing more central.”
Klopp has expertly moulded roles for Gini Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana in Liverpool’s midfield and that’s where Chamberlain could shine. He has everything they have and is even more explosive over 10-20 yards. That’s not to say either of them should be dropped, or that he’s better than them, but it’s a squad game and there should be different teams for different games. You could easily play Wijnaldum as the deepest midfielder when playing a lesser side at home, for example. Perhaps it could be a diamond of Jordan Henderson, Chamberlain, Lallana and Philippe Coutinho at times. Liverpool need more of a first 18 than a first 11 and the better the options the more success will come.
A major reason for some fans not wanting Chamberlain is his record with injuries. While it’s not unreasonable to be slightly concerned, they aren’t as bad as has been made out. The 2013-14 season is the only year of real concern when you consider that, in his first season, he was just a 17-year-old being made to play in a high number of games.
The other issue is his return of goals and assists. The numbers aren’t great but it’s no coincidence that his best season for goals and assists is the one that’s just finished, where for once Arsene Wenger decided to play him more and put more trust in his player during the bad times. In fact, Chamberlain was one of the only Arsenal players to come out of the season with any credit, as he showed the mentality to front up during their poor form and try to appease the disgruntled supporters, a mature act for a 23-year-old lad.
In a market where world record fees are being touted daily, £25 million for a young English player with loads of first team experience — and crucially Champions League experience — is great value.
And a player like Oxlade-Chamberlain would be a big upgrade on the options Liverpool were forced to call upon at times last season.
Klopp is a manager that players want to play for, he trusts them, it’s an environment in which Chamberlain would thrive, he’s a player that needs an arm round his shoulder and Klopp is up there with the best at instilling confidence into his players.
The faster Liverpool can get the deal done the better, then I can re-order my Oxlade-Chamberlain mask and every morning sing ‘Shout Out To My Ex’ in his bird’s voice while pretending that Wenger is in the room with me.
If we don’t sign him then all of the above is lies and he’s shite, obviously.
To hear discussion around Liverpool’s targets and more subscribe to The Anfield Wrap and listen to ‘The Gutter’ – our regular round-up of all the transfer talk. Look out too for special podcasts on new signings when they happen. A subscription also gives you access to our podcast archive – here are some of the highlights so far