Liverpool have maintained a firm decision regarding their stance on Thiago Alcantara with the club as of yet to cede to the financial demands of Bayern Munich.
This a situation the club expect to avoid given that Georginio Wijnaldum recently confirmed his intent to remain at Liverpool and fight for his spot in the team with the Dutchman currently in the final year of his club contract.
It is unlikely now that Liverpool will pursue another midfielder this summer, with seven options in that particular position – not including Marko Grujic or Harry Wilson – currently on the club’s books.
A lifeline for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
One aspect of the pursuit of Thiago that never quite made sense was the number of midfield options Jurgen Klopp already had at his disposal.
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Also, considering the omissions from Saturday’s clash vs Leeds which included Neco Williams, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xherdan Shaqiri, Wilson, Grujic, Kostas Tsimikas, Harvey Elliott and Ki-Jana Hoever – it would suggest that the depth of Klopp’s squad is pretty safe for the time being.
Thiago’s arrival would have complicated matters further as it would have pushed players such as Oxlade-Chamberlain further down the pecking order. Now the 27-year-old has to seize his chance.
There are two aspects to this for Oxlade-Chamberlain. The first he is direct control of.
The former Arsenal man’s performances on the pitch need to be of high quality, and he needs to continually improve his statistical output in front of goal.
Last season, Oxlade-Chamberlain managed to clock up 30 league appearances en route to Liverpool’s title procession. He scored four goals and registered a solitary assist during that time.
He was particularly impressive during victories against Southampton and Bournemouth last season while his display in the home Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid was another example of the standards Oxlade-Chamberlain is capable of reaching.
Liverpool need him to show such an attacking and positional threat on a more sustained basis this season.
Admittedly, Oxlade-Chamberlain has been previously blighted by injury but considering the player is approaching the peak years of his career he has to do better.
When looking at the telling contributions from other attack-minded midfielders at other clubs such as Manchester City and Manchester United, Oxlade-Chamberlain is significantly off the pace.
This isn’t a criticism of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s quality more considering he is Liverpool’s most direct and goal-orientated midfielder, his individual statistics will have to improve if he is to reach the level that befits the needs of a Premier League-winning team.
The second aspect and the most critical one, is whether Oxlade-Chamberlain can stay fit.
He had just the one short spell out due to injury (ankle) last season, featuring in 30 of Liverpool’s 38 Premier League matches. Oxlade-Chamberlain is currently on the sidelines following a knee injury the England international sustained during pre-season.
The extent and length of the setback is still unknown.
It is not so simple for Oxlade-Chamberlain to avoid injuries, given he missed practically the entirety of the 2018/19 season following a cruciate ligament rupture in April 2018 which kept him out of contention for the best part of a year.
If he cannot remain injury free then it opens the door for Naby Keita to step up and secure a more sustained role in the starting XI.
Oxlade-Chamberlain needs to answer these two issues to force his way into Klopp’s plans this season. Liverpool’s reluctance to move in for Thiago suggests that the manager is happy with the array of options already at his disposal, and some would say Oxlade-Chamberlain has earnt such trust with his performances.
But in order to keep Liverpool out of the market for another midfielder in 2021, Oxlade-Chamberlain will need to significantly kick on this season.
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