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.
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.
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.
Luka Modric could prove the perfect Emre Can replacement at Liverpool
The Croatian has been linked with a move to Anfield with Emre Can expected to leave this summer.
Emre Can looks set to be on his way out of Anfield this summer as the 24-year-old German international seems unwilling to sign a new contract at Liverpool.
Spanish news outlet El Gol Digital have recently linked Real Madrid with the German international, although they would have to fend off interest from European rivals Juventus.
Speaking to Sport 1, Can recently expressed his desire to be featured in the world team of the year at some point in his career.
For the 24-year-old, it would be difficult to turn down a club of Madrid’s magnitude and his departure would represent a blow for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Nonetheless, a swap deal for Real Madrid star Luka Modric would be a superb way to ease the pain of the German’s exit.
Reports linking Can with the Bernabeu come just a matter of weeks after Spanish newspaper Dario Gol expressed Luka Modric’s desire to leave the current Champions League holders.
The Croation international is reportedly keen on a return to the Premier League return, with Liverpool, along with Tottenham, named as front-runners for his signature.
Even at 32 years of age, the Croatian midfielder is still one of the best players in the world and would represent an excellent short-term fix for the Reds.
His brilliant passing range, his superb footballing brain, and his delicate skills are all crucial components that would boost Liverpool’s attacking threat.
Combined with a world-class attack consisting of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane, the Reds truly could stake a claim for the most dynamic frontline in England next season.
Most importantly, the addition of Modric could finally mark the replacement for Philippe Coutinho that many Liverpool supporters have been begging for.
A seasoned international with tremendous experience at the upper levels of world football would be a remarkable transfer for Klopp’s side, and would surely bolster their title aspirations in 2018/19.
Andrew Robertson the most important Liverpool summer signing
The Scottish left-back has plugged a gap that has existed at Liverpool for some time.
Mohamed Salah rightly received all the praise yesterday, after Liverpool put Watford to the sword in the Premier League.
Liverpool beat the Hornets 5-0 at Anfield, with the Egyptian scoring four of the goals.
It is hard to argue with Salah being the club’s best signing in the summer. His tally of 37 goals in 43 games certainly highlights that fact.
However, the most important signing might have been that of Andrew Robertson.
The Scottish left-back joined from Hull City in a deal, reported by the Independent, to be worth around £8 million. That price-tag is now looking an absolute bargain.
Liverpool have had problems at left-back for a number of seasons.
Alberto Moreno looked like being the solution. However, the Spaniard’s defensive work and decision making made him a liability.
Jon Flanagan, who was Brendan Rodgers’ regular left-back, has not reached similar heights since a series of knee injuries decimated his promising career.
Last season saw James Milner fill the role. The experienced midfielder played well out of position but long-term, was not the solution.
Now, Liverpool have Robertson. The Scotland international has made the step up from his time at Hull with ease.
The 24-year-old Glaswegian is not only a threat going forward, but defensively he is exceptional.
His delivery into the box is undoubtedly exemplary, but he is equally adept at stopping opposing players from getting near Liverpool’s.
Liverpool have managed to bring in a player perfectly suited to Jurgen Klopp’s style of play.
Heavy-metal is the way Robertson plays in both attack and defence and the fans at Anfield already love him.
At just £8 million and only 24-years-old Liverpool picked up the bargain of the summer in the Premier League.
If Robertson can continue to progress and play with the same level of consistency he already has, then a decade of dominance at left-back could follow as Liverpool’s left-back.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah within touching distance of all-time Premier League goal-scoring record
The Egyptian international has 28 Premier League goals this term.
Anfield witnessed a truly special moment in the second half of Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Watford on Saturday. Winning 3-0, Liverpool were running riot in wintry conditions, and Mohamed Salah collected the ball just inside the box on a hat-trick.
What followed was absolute magic, emblematic of a dream debut season in the north-west for the Egyptian. Salah was mobbed by three defenders, but left all three in the dust with one deft cut-back.
Then, with two more Watford players crashing in on the ball, Salah remarkably managed to poke an improvised finish into the far corner past the helpless Orestis Karnezis.
As Salah wheeled away in celebration, tongue stuck out and arms extended, Anfield reveled in history in the making. That goal marked Salah’s 27th of the Premier League season and he would go on to score his 28th just eight minutes later.
The Egyptian is on course to smash the Premier League scoring records in emphatic fashion. The current record is 31 goals, a tally achieved by Alan Shearer in 1995/96, Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007/08, and fellow Red Luis Suarez in 2013/14.
With seven matches remaining, including fixtures against the likes of West Brom and Stoke, few would bet against Salah demolishing the 22-year-old record.
The achievement would place Salah in the illustrious company of Premier League legends, an incredible feat for a player who many in England wrote off during his short spell at Chelsea.
Thanks to Salah, Liverpool have barely missed a step after the departure of Philippe Coutinho in January, advancing to the Champions League quarterfinals and cementing their top-four position.
The prolific winger is proving all of his doubters wrong in audacious fashion, and with a Premier League Golden Boot and goal-scoring record seemingly on the way, he is one of the most in-form players in the world.
The early-April European clash with Manchester City will provide Salah with, perhaps, his biggest stage yet. Expect the top goalscorer in England to rise to the occasion.
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