Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been linked with a move to Liverpool in the upcoming transfer window.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has failed to establish a regular starting place at the Emirates, leading to speculation he could leave.
Arsenal correspondent Mattias Karen and Liverpool counterpart Glenn Price give their view on what the out-of-favour England man should do.
Liverpool move makes sense — Price
Two of Liverpool’s most successful recent January purchases have found themselves in a position similar to Arsenal’s Oxlade-Chamberlain.
It is a notoriously difficult window to buy in but in January 2013, Liverpool were able to prise away Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge from Inter Milan and Chelsea respectively. Both of the players were on the periphery of the starting XI at their clubs and Liverpool pounced on their frustration with the offer of regular football.
It is safe to say that both recruits have been extremely successful in their four seasons at Anfield. Coutinho is on the rise to becoming one of the best players in the world, with Barcelona said to be keen on the Brazilian, while Sturridge has proven his goal scoring prowess and can be classed as England’s best striker when fit.
Liverpool can provide Oxlade-Chamberlain with a similar platform, especially as the England international is reportedly growing frustrated at the lack of opportunity currently on offer to him at the Emirates.
The 23-year-old will be given plenty of chances to fulfil his potential at Liverpool, as well as in the long-term. Sadio Mane’s participation at next month’s African Nations Cup means Jurgen Klopp needs a winger for a fair chunk of the season, and Oxlade-Chamberlain can act as a brief replacement for the Senegal international.
Last January, the Arsenal player admitted he still wasn’t sure which position he preferred — either central midfield or on the wing. However, his versatility to play all over the pitch is something that will be extremely attractive to Klopp, and his summer business proves such.
Indeed, Mane can play a number of positions across the frontline, while summer signing Georginio Wijnaldum was mainly used as a No. 10 at Newcastle United but has thrived in a central-midfield role during his first season at Liverpool. Given his age, Klopp will still believe he can mould Oxlade-Chamberlain into a position that is best suited to his attributes.
Playing under the Reds boss must be an exciting prospect for the player, too. Klopp has overseen the remarkable improvement of Adam Lallana, Roberto Firmino and Dejan Lovren. Oxlade-Chamberlain could be another addition to that list.
Arsenal should keep him — Karen
Joining Klopp’s revolution at Liverpool might be an attractive proposition for Oxlade-Chamberlain, given his struggles to cement a starting role at Arsenal.
However, there is little chance of Arsene Wenger selling him at this stage of the season and especially not to a direct title rival. As for the player himself, that’s probably a good thing. The England international may not have a place in Wenger’s first XI at present but he remains a vital part of this team, with six goals and six assists for the campaign.
And it’s not like the player is withering away on the bench: he has 23 appearances for the season, albeit only 12 starts. While he may trail Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi in the pecking order, he’s not far behind and remains the most natural replacement for either of the two in case of an injury. The return of Danny Welbeck could provide even more competition, but certainly doesn’t make Oxlade-Chamberlain surplus to requirements.
Let’s be honest: If he can’t displace Walcott or Iwobi, would he fare any better if his competition was Coutinho, Lallana and Mane? Maybe he should ask Sturridge. The 23-year-old himself might be frustrated with his situation, but Wenger remains convinced of his player’s qualities and will not want to part with someone he brought in as a teenager from Southampton.
The Arsenal boss said as much this month, when he declared: “I want Oxlade-Chamberlain to stay at the club. I bought him at a very young age, I think he’s developing well. This season he’s making steps and moving forward.”
Of course, with 18 months left on his contract, Arsenal could be forced to sell if the winger was to push for a move. But even then, he’s unlikely to end up at Liverpool. Bad blood remains between the two clubs ever since Arsenal’s farcical bid for Luis Suarez in 2013.
The Gunners would be reluctant to let one of their top English talents move to Anfield, especially given the prospect of seeing Oxlade-Chamberlain flourish under Klopp. Wenger has, in truth, struggled to get the best out of Oxlade-Chamberlain and it would be damaging indeed to see the Englishman finally reach his true potential under a different manager.