As news filtered through, via the Liverpool Echo, that Liverpool had agreed a £35 million fee with Arsenal for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, a number of fans immediately assumed the worst over a potential move for Monaco winger Thomas Lemar.
The Guardian insist that Jurgen Klopp and his club are still pursuing a deal for the Frenchman, whilst the Liverpool Echo went as far as to say that medical officials are “on standby” in order to fly to France to seal a deal for the 21-year-old.
In truth, it is likely that if both players end up at Anfield, they will play very different roles. Lemar is likely to take up a role in Klopp’s front three, featuring on either the left or right flank where he has excelled for Monaco since joining the Ligue Un champions.
He could also sit in a deeper role, perhaps in the attacking midfield role that Philippe Coutinho filled in pre-season and at times at the tale end of last season. Even in that case though, it seems unlikely that his crossing ability would be wasted in a central role.
That role may instead fall to Oxlade-Chamberlain. His high pressing game and creativity could provide an exciting alternative for Adam Lallana, who is expected to be out until at least December with an injury.
Oxlade-Chamberlain may also drop into a deeper role, as Georgino Wijnaldum did. The Dutchman also signed having played as an attacking midfielder at Newcastle before moving to Merseyside, and Klopp may foresee a similar adaptation for Oxlade-Chamberlain to assume more defensive responsibilities.
Some have suggested that Oxlade-Chamberlain may be a long term replacement for James Milner as a versatile and reliable midfield option who can fulfill a variety of roles. Lemar is much more likely to be a long term replacement for Philippe Coutinho featuring in a more advanced role as part of the Reds’ front three.