Liverpool have had an outstanding summer so far, but late today the flow of good news was tempered by the disappointing revelation that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is expected to miss the entirety—or close to it—of the coming 2018-19 season.
After suffering an ACL injury in the Champions League semi-final against Roma, reports had the 24-year-old midfielder set to miss six months of action. He was expected to be fit late in September or early in October with the aim being for a mid-season return.
However, news that he will likely miss the entire season isn’t a set-back. Rather, it’s what the club have been expecting since his surgery was concluded—but the club withheld that the timeframe was longer than initial reports suggested.
“It feels like now is an appropriate time to tell people that for Ox this coming season will be about focusing on recovery and rehab,” Jürgen Klopp said to the club’s official website. “We have known this from pretty much the day after he got the injury.
“After the successful surgery, we were sure of it. There has been no change, no setback. The new information is that we’re now giving more detail publicly. It is typical of Ox that he didn’t want the news to overshadow the end of the season.”
With the midfielder not likely to play a role this season it does slightly change the math heading into it as far as squad composition goes, as up until now many had wondered how Klopp would fit a number of new signings in when he returned.
And with Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson both coming off seasons that saw them miss significant time through injury as well, it makes the new signing of Fabinho and arrival of Naby Keïta even more important than they seemed up until now.
Still, despite that this is a blow for both Liverpool and Oxlade-Chamberlain—even if it was a blow the player and club knew about before the general public did—Klopp insists that the young Englishman remains very much in his long-term plans.
“We thought we could wait and tell people at an appropriate time,” Klopp added. “His surgery—which he had on the day of our second leg in Roma—has been completely successful and his recovery has started superbly well.
“But the truth of the matter is that we are preparing this season knowing he will not be with us on the pitch for competitive matches for the majority of it. If we do see him back this season it will be a bonus.”
“He is such an outstandingly good person and someone who even when not playing is integral to the heartbeat of Melwood. We will show the patience that is required to make sure he comes back ready to continue where he left off.”