The status of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is clear after his late introduction against Real Madrid. The Englishman didn’t get much time in the Champions League.
There was a time when a game like last night’s called for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The obvious example is Liverpool needing a fast, aggressive start against Manchester City back in 2018.
The Reds won 3-0 on that night, with Oxlade-Chamberlain thriving. He was direct, driven and unstoppable, pressing high and forcing Liverpool forward.
It’s what Liverpool needed last night. They went into the game against Real Madrid 3-1 down, after all.
Yet, not only did Oxlade-Chamberlain not start, he barely played. Jurgen Klopp gave him just eight minutes at Anfield.
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It’s a decision that asks big questions of the Englishman’s future.
We know Oxlade-Chamberlain doesn’t hold high status at Liverpool right now. He hasn’t, in truth, since going down injured against AS Roma in 2018.
But you’ve got to wonder what the future holds for Oxlade-Chamberlain. If he’s not getting a game last night, when is he?
He’s there as the aggressive, pacey midfielder – the one you use when you need to blitz a team. Liverpool needed to do that last night but no one blinked at Oxlade-Chamberlain being off the teamsheet.
We might be coming to the end of his time at Liverpool, then. It’s a real shame, given the early promise after his £35m move, but it’s difficult to see his place.
There’s a lot of competition in midfield at Liverpool, after all. Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Thiago are certainly above him. Gini Wijnaldum is for now, though he may leave this summer.
James Milner is ahead, too, and seemingly Naby Keita – but that may have changed like week.
Curtis Jones is an up-and-coming player who offers similar to Oxlade-Chamberlain and he’s only getting better. That’s arguably the biggest threat to the more experienced international.
But most worryingly of all, Klopp was more willing to switch system to 4-2-4 than introduce an attacking midfielder in Oxlade-Chamberlain. When the boss is willing to go all-out like that, it’s hard to hold down a niche as merely a more attacking option from the middle.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was once the go-to in such situations. Right now, though, he’s more of an afterthought.