Joseph Kavaloski explains why Liverpool should not pursue a transfer for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain this summer.
As silly season heats up and Liverpool fans begin seeing links to the typical players such as Arda Turan or William Carvalho, it sometimes gets challenging to even try and figure out the club’s transfer strategy.
Things have been somewhat clearer under Klopp since it is relatively easy to see who he would and would not want in his team, yet the Reds are still subjects of ridiculous rumours such as the most recent link to Iker Casillas.
One name that has seemed to become quite popular in many tabloids that may actually have some level of credence to it is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Arsenal man is entering the final year of his contract and the Gunners have made other players such as Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil much higher priorities when negotiating new deals.
As a result, it does appear as though ‘The Ox‘ is available. Still 23 years of age, Oxlade-Chamberlain does hold additional upside to the already solid player that he is, however, he has not performed up to the standards expected after his move from Southampton a few years back and there is a good chance he never reaches a level high enough to be a regular member of the starting eleven.
Regardless of his frustrating inability to produce consistently, he does have a tremendous amount of pace and the flexibility to play in central midfield and out wide. Plus, his youth provides him with the time and potential to polish his technical ability and possibly become a top-class player.
With the Reds lacking in both places Chamberlain can play, it makes sense that a talented young Englishman with only a year left on his deal would be linked with the Merseyside club. That being said, Liverpool fans should hope that these links stay only that and do not materialise into a transfer.
Despite Chamberlain’s pace, the Arsenal man has never been able to hone his ability in front of goal. This past season, he recorded only six goals and 11 assists in 45 appearances in all competitions. Many of these were substitute cameos with 20-30 minutes remaining, but his inability to turn creativity into end product has been a major issue throughout his time at Arsenal.
Especially when considering that he only had two goals and two assists the season prior in 33 appearances, Chamberlain clearly has an issue in front of goal. Although the Reds have improved tremendously in this area since Klopp took over, adding a player who cannot put the ball in the back of the net is not particularly helpful for a side that could still get better in that area.
Klopp’s system is heavily reliant on wide players chipping in and even leading the team in goals. Sadio Mané and Philippe Coutinho were the team’s two highest scorers this past season despite Roberto Firmino occupying the role as the team’s so-called “striker.”
Chamberlain would be relied upon to contribute in a similar way to Mané. His driving pace would be an asset against compact defensive sides, but unlike the Senegalese star, Chamberlain does not do a good job of putting the ball in the net or setting up his teammates with prime scoring opportunities.
On top of his shortcomings with scoring chances, the Ox has also been incredibly unreliable with his fitness. The Englishman has been extremely frustrating for many Arsenal fans in both his inconsistency on and off the pitch.
In Klopp’s super high-intensity gegenpressing system, it is hard to imagine Chamberlain staying off the treatment table. Most of his injury issues have been muscle problems and these seem to be the most common for Liverpool players as well. If the Englishman was constantly injured under Arsene Wenger, it is frightening to imagine how many minor muscle injuries he would accrue under Klopp.
In summary, the Reds need to avoid adding Chamberlain to the squad. It appears as though the England international is a backup plan for other players of higher priority like Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita, but Liverpool fans need to hope that the Reds are able to bring their top targets to Anfield and do not end up settling for the Ox.