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Jurgen Klopp’s brave January decision is playing off thanks to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Jurgen Klopp opted against replacing Philippe Coutinho in the January window, instead giving his existing players the opportunity to step up.

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made an ambitious move from Arsenal to Liverpool during the summer. Due to his contractual situation, he was a hot property and there was interest from a number of top English clubs.

Chelsea had registered an interest and had a bid accepted by the Gunners, but the England international had his heart set on a move to Anfield. Jurgen Klopp plays a high-energy style that appealed to the 24-year-old, but it hasn’t been straight-forward for him since making the switch.

The main motivation behind leaving Arsenal was that Chamberlain wanted to push on and he felt that a transfer was needed to breathe fresh life into his career.

There was a feeling that he had stagnated at Arsenal, while he was rarely used in his favoured position of central-midfield. Since breaking into senior football, he has been a victim of his own versatility, playing on either wing, at full-back, and in central midfield.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The quality that Liverpool already had in the middle of the park meant that opportunities there were going to be limited and he needed to take them when he arrived.

However, the sale of Philippe Coutinho opened up a chance for Chamberlain in an advanced midfield role. It was thought that Adam Lallana would be the one to take the spot, but his international team-mate has done very well there and could be the long-term solution in the role.

Although Chamberlain has been given chances in his favoured role of late, it took him some time to earn that opportunity. Klopp viewed him as a natural wide player upon signing and stated that he would need training in order to play centrally, as shown by the following quotes reported by the Mirror:

“I would say there has been no consistency until now. We let him run so far, let him do what he is naturally good at and it will take time but it’s all good. He is obviously powerful and that is what we need.

“At the moment his best position is more the wing that the No 8.

“Without training, playing in the middle of the park doesn’t make sense.”

To begin with, Chamberlain was mainly used from the bench and 14 of his 25 Premier League appearances for Liverpool have come as a substitute.

That is understandable as the Reds have a style under Klopp and it is difficult for players to come straight in to perform immediately. However, he has recently been picked in important matches, such as the victories over Everton and Manchester City since the turn of the year.

There will be rotation at a club as big as Liverpool, but Chamberlain is establishing himself as a starter and at the age of 24, he finally seems to be fulfilling his potential.

He is a good option to have in the centre of the park, as he provides dynamism and drive due to his history on the wing. The England international is willing to run at defenders and puts opposition teams on the back foot, which often leads to space being created for the front three.

The one area of his game that he will want to improve is his own contribution in the final third. At the time of writing, Chamberlain has three goals and four assists, with a goal involvement every 166.1 minutes.

Despite not being one of the main attacking players, he has the potential to produce better final product. If he does get more starts, Klopp would expect him to offer more in the attacking half.

In addition to being good in transition, the former Arsenal player has a high work rate and contributes to the team’s defence, as shown by his average of 1.15 successful tackles and 1.37 interceptions per ninety minutes.

Liverpool want to press high up the pitch and force opposing teams into errors in their own half. Chamberlain is very good at this and that is why a central role suits him at Anfield.

(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

It was his display against Manchester City that showed the progress that he had made since signing for Jurgen Klopp’s side. He scored and assisted on that day, playing a key part in ending the visitors’ unbeaten Premier League run.

Chamberlain did well in transition, completing five dribbles and three key passes. Meanwhile, he made three ball recoveries off the ball. Given this came just days after the sale of Coutinho, it was a timely performance from the 24-year-old.

Despite being in and out of the team since then, Chamberlain remains the best placed to make the position his own and another strong showing against West Ham this past weekend strengthened his claim.

The midfielder was faultless in transition, as he completed four dribbles and made four key passes. He was the most creative player on the pitch and earned the assist for Mohamed Salah’s goal.

His distribution has developed a lot this season and his pass success rate of 91% underlines that he is making better decisions when he has the ball at his feet.

Jurgen Klopp explained that Chamberlain needed to learn the role and this match showed that he has taken those comments on board. He worked tirelessly without the ball and made four ball recoveries.

It was a complete midfield display and offered encouragement that the former Arsenal player can be an important figure at Anfield.

It was a brave decision to not spend big on a replacement for Coutinho during the January transfer window, but Klopp showed faith in the players already at the club and Chamberlain’s emergence shows that was the right decision.

The challenge is now for the midfielder to continue to impress and make the position his own ahead of the summer. If he plays like he did against West Ham on a consistent basis, he could become a fixture of the first-team for both club and country.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Liverpool

Liverpool round-up: £27 million striker move; Karius’ Turkish talks; Alisson preparations

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A new suitor could poach Divock Origi from Liverpool

The Liverpool Echo say that a surprising new interested party has emerged as Liverpool look to sell Divock Origi this summer, with Borussia Dortmund the latest club to have registered an interest in the Belgian, who has two years left on his Anfield contract.

However, the Reds are refusing to budge on their £27 million asking price which could prove to be problematic for the Bundesliga outfit. With only 11 days left in the transfer window, talks may be ongoing over the coming week and a half.

Loris Karius is edging closer to a Besiktas move

After his Champions League nightmare and the signing of Alisson Becker, the Mirror say that Loris Karius is close to an exit from Merseyside too. Jurgen Klopp has reportedly given his approval, provided that any offers for third choice Simon Mignolet goalkeeper would be rejected should Karius’ exit be confirmed.

Talks are ongoing between Karius and Turkish side Besiktas ahead of a potential loan move with a view to a permanent switch, which could suit all parties if it does come off before the deadline.

Alisson has been training with rugby tackling bags

New summer signing Alisson Becker has been training with rugby tackling bags in order to prepare him for what lies ahead in the Premier League, particularly with one eye on Monday’s trip to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace.

“It is not really rugby, it is goalkeeper training. All the boys did it. When Loris (Karius) came he did it, all the goalkeepers do it, and Alisson is doing it as well, of course. It is normal goalkeeper training. It makes sense to do it because the six-yard area is rather a proposal than a safety box for a goalkeeper… It is not that the goalkeeper has to change completely now for this league, we have to help him too in situations.”

Klopp made the confession and explained the reasoning behind it.

Jurgen Klopp confirmed that the sessions have taken place in his early days on Merseyside, though the coach insisted that it is normal practice for his goalkeepers.

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Liverpool

Liverpool round-up: Offer for Robertson; new deal for Grujic; Firmino wants title

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Liverpool are preparing a pay rise for Andrew Robertson

Andrew Robertson may only have joined the Reds last summer, but the Scottish defender is in line for a new contract which will doubles his wages, according to the Mirror. The club have been so impressed by his form since joining from Hull that they want to reward him with a pay rise.

The left-back became a regular for Jurgen Klopp after a slow start to life on Merseyside and more than justified his £10 million fee, which now looks a bargain.

Marko Grujic is set to sign a new deal and depart on loan

After rumours of an exit throughout the summer, Sky Sports say that young midfielder Marko Grujic will sign a new contract at Anfield until 2023 and then head out on loan to Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin.

Grujic spent time with Cardiff as they won promotion from the Championship last season and was expected to return to Wales but a move never came to fruition and he will now go to Germany to continue his development.

Roberto Firmino has discussed his ambitions

Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino has spoken exclusively to the Mirror to give an interview in which he made it clear that him and his team-mates are aiming for the Premier League title this season.

“I am optimistic and I believe ­Liverpool are capable of fighting for the greatest success this season. I also think we have a better team than last season and that the new ­players will improve the performance of the team. We have shown in the last campaign that our dreams can be fulfilled and that we can return to the path of winning titles. This year, we must not fail and that is the attitude of the ­players. I’m only interested in Liverpool and winning everything I can with them. We know what it would mean to be champions.”

Firmino discussed his future.

The former Hoffenheim man is a fan favourite at Anfield and clearly has no plans to depart the club in the near future with his sights set on success under Jurgen Klopp.

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Liverpool

Liverpool round-up: Klopp demands more; Klavan explains exit; loans for youngsters

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Boss Jurgen Klopp has demanded more from Liverpool‘s fringe players

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has made it clear that he will not tolerate any complaints from unhappy fringe players this season as he relies on them to make their point on the training ground.

“I cannot make people happy, I never could. Whatever happens on 31 August there will be a specific point where it is clear that is the squad for the next four months until January. Who cannot be happy in these four months being part of the squad at Liverpool I cannot help. Everyone who trains on his highest level – because the decision has already been made that they are good enough to play for Liverpool – has a big chance to be an important part of the team, to stay in the team and all these things.”

Klopp won’t pander to any demands from his players.

The German did not hide his feelings having been forced to leave out the likes of Alberto Moreno and Ragnar Klavan last weekend, whilst Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren remain sidelined. Klavan has since left the club, and as the transfer market enters the final stages in other countries it appears more exits could be on the way.

Ragnar Klavan has revealed that two Liverpool players encouraged him to leave

Estonian defender Ragnar Klavan completed a £2 million move to Serie A side Cagliari on Friday just before the transfer deadline arrived in Italy, and he has explained his decision to leave Merseyside.

“I had offers from several teams, including in other countries, but Cagliari really wanted me. Darijo Srna advised me to come here, as I talked to him via Dejan Lovren. Other Liverpool teammates like Alisson, Salah and Lucas Leiva all spoke highly of Serie A.”

Klavan revealed the thoughts behind making the move.

Some fans may have been surprised to see him depart but given that he was entering into the final year of his contract and was unlikely to feature regularly with the likes of Matip, Lovren, Joe Gomez and Virgil Van Dijk ahead of him, it makes sense.

Under 23s set for loan deals

The Liverpool Echo report that the final two weeks of the loan transfer window could see several under 23s players depart the club on loan in search of regular game time, joining the likes of Harry Wilson, Ben Woodburn, Ryan Kent and Ovie Ejaria who have already headed out on loan.

Many of those to feature for the team against Manchester United under 23s on Friday evening spent time out on loan last season, including Spanish midfielder Pedro Chirivella who was heavily involved in pre-season and was linked with a move away.

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