It’s still an open question whether Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be wearing a Liver Bird on his chest come August. But however that shakes out, it’s looking more and more likely that his days in North London are drawing to a close.
At least that’s the takeaway from Jonathan Northcroft over at The Sunday Times. According to Northcroft’s report, Ox has told Arsenal that he wants an expedient exit— preferably before preseason training starts early next month.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is said to have spent some time while on England duty this month mulling over his future, and has reportedly decided that it almost certainly isn’t at the Emirates Stadium. The report notes that Ox hasn’t played a full 90 minutes in more than five consecutive games, and that he often finds himself being played outside his preferred position (central midfield).
With Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester City all waiting in the wings to offer him whatever he wants— minutes, position preference, Champions League football— Ox is definitely in a solid bargaining position. While it’s possible that he’s trying to gain some leverage in contract negotiations and ultimately does want to stay, Northcroft’s report, combined with other recent gossip, suggests that his time with the Gunners is pretty much done.
One overriding consideration is the looming 2018 World Cup. The 2017-18 Premier League season is Ox’s last, best chance to plead his case for inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s England squad next summer. He’s going to need regular minutes and, preferably, Champions League football. Arsenal definitely cannot offer him the latter and perhaps can’t credibly promise the former.
So it’s looking more and more like he’s on his way out. But the report also notes that Arsenal won’t accept less than £25 million for him, which complicates matters a bit. Under ideal circumstances, Oxlade-Chamberlain is certainly worth the money. But with precious little game tape to look at, and some valid injury concerns, this isn’t exactly a low-risk high-reward situation. And while £25 million isn’t that much money these days (especially not in the Premier League), there’s still some risk for whatever club is willing to pull the trigger.