Ah, the old “[injured player returning to the team] is like a new player” nugget that managers bust out during the transfer window when their team isn’t going to make any big new signings. Only this time when Jürgen Klopp says it...you kind of believe it?
Fans waited a long year to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain return to Klopp’s midfield. The former Arsenal man played a huge part in Liverpool’s 2017-18 campaign after arriving from London that summer. The weakest part of Liverpool’s team last season was their midfield, despite the introduction of Fabinho, Naby Keita, and Xherdan Shaqiri to Klopp’s roster. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s presence, especially during the long winter, was sorely felt.
Fans are also hopeful that the young Rhian Brewster could be the attacking coverage that Liverpool need after the sad departure of Liverpool mainstay Daniel Sturridge.
Klopp knows all this, and as the pre-season gets set to kickoff, he appears to feel the same anticipation for their recover that we all do.
“If Ox can stay fit – new player for us,” Klopp said.
“Rhian the same; he is a really big talent. We’re really looking forward to seeing him in training and all that stuff. It will be an important role for us, we planned an important role for him. So, new player.
“Like Joe Gomez is pretty much a new player. Adam Lallana, new player. After a lot of problems last year, if these boys can really stay fit then that’s completely different to last year for the team because there is real quality. That’s cool.”
Hopefully Brewster and Oxlade-Chamberlain tilt more towards the Gomez end of the spectrum than Lallana’s, who never looked the same since he returned from his long-term layoff.
As for how to re-integrate these players into the team, Klopp is taking the slow approach.
“Hopefully we can use the time to give them the time because it’s a while ago they had competitive games. We start pretty intensely with Tranmere, getting promoted,” he said.
“After a few days’ training, playing that game against a League One team is a challenge. Then Bradford and then we really go for it. You play these games not only for doing something in these 90 minutes, you want to see a few things: improvement, desire and all that stuff.
“We have to be ready early, we start the league on Friday night against Norwich – we have to be ready and that’s not the only game we prepare for, of course.”
This is the time of year when anything seems possible, and right now, the possibility of having a fit and ready Oxlade-Chamberlain, Brewster, Lallana, and Gomez, along with all of the already excellent players, is an exciting prospect indeed.