In the spring, during one of the many rounds of rumours linking Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with a move to Liverpool, manager Jürgen Klopp was asked about his club’s supposed interest in the player. He laughed it off and then offered a flat-out denial: Liverpool were not interested in signing the Arsenal player.
Despite that, it’s been hard to go a week since without a new, breathless update. Now, though, any Liverpool fans who had found themselves caught up in the idea of the 23-year-old English multidisciplinarian turning up at Anfield are in for a blow: the papers in London are reporting he’s going to sign a new Arsenal deal.
The London Evening Standard have today said a £100k per week deal has been tabled by Arsenal and, after the player was assured he will see regular minutes at his current club by Arsene Wenger, he is set to sign on the dotted line and secure his future at the club he moved to from Southampton in a £15M deal in 2011.
Liverpool’s name, as has often happened, was only ever floated in the press in order to help with negotiations. In recent weeks, Chelsea were rumoured to be interested, too. In reality, Oxlade-Chamberlain never made sense as a target for either club—at least not with his injury record and at the reported £25M.
Throw in that one of the player’s biggest concerns with staying at Arsenal was meant to be playing time and a desire to get more minutes in central midfield, and the rumours made even less sense: a player entering the last year of his contract with an awful injury history who wanted to move to Liverpool for midfield minutes.
If Klopp gets his way, Liverpool will have two sixes or holding midfielders in Jordan Henderson and Emre Can. They will have two central midfielders in Gini Wijnaldum and transfer target Naby Keïta, two wingers in Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah, and two who can cover both in Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was never going to cover the six, which means he would have been, at best, the fifth shuttling CM behind Wijnaldum and Keïta and Lallana and Coutinho. Or he would have been fighting with Lallana for minutes as fourth choice on the wing behind Mané and Salah and Coutinho.
He’s a player who, when everyone was fit—assuming Klopp gets his targets in—wouldn’t have even made the matchday 18. There’s no doubting Oxlade-Chamberlain is a good and useful utility player. But for £25M, for a player heading into the final year of his deal, for a player supposedly looking for more playing time?
It never made much sense. Even if one ignored Klopp’s earlier insistence there was no deal in the works. Or at least it never made much sense beyond the usual song and dance of an agent trying to get his client a better deal at his current club. Which it now looks like he’s going to get.