Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may well play right-back next season. It’s a sacrifice for which he can look to James Milner for inspiration.
It seems Neco Williams will leave Liverpool this summer. That’s according to the Athletic.
They claim the Welshman wants first-team football and doesn’t see that happening with Liverpool. He’s almost certainly right, of course.
Williams is 20 and a very promising player but Liverpool’s current right-back is only two years older and the best in the world. He’s probably never going to leapfrog Trent Alexander-Arnold, not matter how long he sticks around.
We entirely understand his thinking, then. If Williams wants a top career, it’ll likely have to come at a club where he’s not behind a world-class player who’s barely older than him.
What’s interesting, though, is that Liverpool reportedly won’t replace him. Instead, they’ll rely on Joe Gomez offering cover and hope Conor Bradley can step up long-term as an option.
We think that’s a risky approach. Right-back is a very important position in the side, given how much Liverpool rely on creativity from their full-backs.
Gomez can’t offer that as he’s just not a natural there. Bradley is completely untested, of course, and if Alexander-Arnold were to get injured, Liverpool would suffer offensively. The England right-back is currently recovering from an injury, too.
It’s a difficult situation, then. Unless they ask another player to make a sacrifice.
Oxlade-Chamberlain at right-back
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would likely be the best answer at right-back. Can he defend? Not really. But he’s capable of getting forward and making things happen.
We see him as the best option from an attacking point of view, should Alexander-Arnold be out. It’s something Jamie Carragher pointed out on Twitter after the Williams news, too.
Could the OX not play there? Got the pace & engine, he’ll be fine on the ball & used to being in crossing areas after spending so long there as a winger.— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) June 21, 2021
The only problem, really, is that Oxlade-Chamberlain doesn’t like playing there. He filled in at Arsenal over his last season but made it clear that he didn’t really enjoy it.
“I feel a lot of my best performances for Arsenal came in midfield but I never played consistently in that position,” he said on his move to Liverpool.
“The first game of that season I switched with Hector [Bellerin]. First game I played on the left [wing-back], he played on the right and second game we switched.
“I thought ‘I’ve got to take the risk [and leave], I’ve got to take the chance. I don’t want to look back at the end and think I didn’t try.’”
So not ideal, then. He can look to James Milner, though, for inspiration. Milner played an entire season at left-back – not his favoured role – and still fills in there from time to time.
He’s proven a huge asset in that sense, capable of covering a gap in the squad.
Oxlade-Chamberlain certainly won’t play there every week next season. He should be prepared to fill in every now and then, though, for the benefit of the team.
Liverpool may well end up needing him.