While he hasn’t been at the same hype level as Virgil van Dijk or Naby Keïta, one key player on Liverpool’s radar this transfer window has been Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The England international and all-around nice young man has been spinning his wheels at Arsenal the past few seasons and is reportedly anxious to secure some regular first team minutes. Add in the fact that Arsenal will not be able to offer Champions League football this season— and Liverpool can, not to brag or anything— and it was starting to look like a mutually beneficial deal.
Liverpool get some added firepower up front. Ox gets regular minutes and a chance to plead his case ahead of the World Cup next summer. We would’ve been happy. He would’ve been happy. I dreamed a dream in times gone byyyyyyyyyy...
But the rumours seem to have sputtered in recent weeks as Arsenal seemed adamant of hanging on to the player. Which makes sense— he’s a solid wide forward, his Englishness balances out all the other internationals in the squad (and thus keeps them onside with the Homegrown Player Rule), and hanging onto him also keeps him out of the hands of a major rival. Yet in doing so, Arsenal have also betrayed themselves as an organization bent on spreading darkness and cruelty, smothering love and joy in their sleep, and bending the moral arc of the universe back toward injustice.
This commitment to furthering the banality of evil— emphasis on “banal,” because, you know, Arsenal— was redoubled today when manager and avatar of the Demiurge Arsène Wenger made it clear that The Ox wasn’t going anywhere.
Following Arsenal’s preseason friendly with Western Sydney Wanderers in Australia today— or maybe sometime next week, I can never sort out the time difference— Wenger stated in no uncertain terms that Oxlade-Chamberlain was staying put. “Yes. 100%, I expect him to stay,” Wenger said. “No matter the speculation, he will stay.”
Per the article from The Echo, the issue may not be entirely settled as far as Ox or his agent are concerned. And without Champions League play on offer, Arsenal will almost certainly have to pony up in order to make it worth Ox’s while to stay. Given that the Gunners likely still don’t see him as a starter, it may end up being the case that Arsenal’s braintrust realizes the RoI doesn’t quite make sense for them and decide to shop him after all.
In the meantime, we Liverpool fans are left to gaze out from the moors, bereft and mired in melancholy, torturing ourselves with daydreams of what could’ve been and what may never be. We are, indeed, caught up in Saudade— what Brazilians refer to as either “longing for an absent other” or “nostalgia for a future that never happened.”