With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain unhappy with his role and refusing to sign a new contract, Arsenal had no choice but to sell high on him this transfer window. And Arsene Wenger has cashed in to the tune of £40 million, with Ox choosing to make his way to Liverpool.
Arsenal initially agreed to a fee with Chelsea on Tuesday, but Oxlade-Chamberlain told the Gunners that he did not want a move to West London, with Liverpool being his preferred destination.
That brought Arsenal and Liverpool to the negotiating table, and they quickly hammered out a deal on Wednesday, with the Chelsea negotiations having already provided them a pretty well-defined framework. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s agent announced the deal ahead of reporters coming out with the details.
Oxlade-Chamberlain adds depth to a Liverpool side that seriously needs it, but he won’t see himself that way. He’s moved to Liverpool because he thinks it gives him the best chance to play in his preferred central role.
Ox wants to be a midfielder
While Oxlade-Chamberlain has spent most of his career as a winger, he’s gotten a few run-outs in the center for the Gunners and looked promising in the role. But recently, he’s played a bit of wingback for Arsenal, which he didn’t like much at all. He reportedly turned down the move to Chelsea because he thought Antonio Conte would also use him as a wingback.
While opportunities to play in the center will present themselves more often at Liverpool than they did at Arsenal or would have at Chelsea, it seems likely that Jürgen Klopp sees Ox’s versatility as a huge asset. Don’t expect him to play any particular position full time, but do expect to see him more in the center than you have in any previous season.
Could this soften Liverpool’s stance on Coutinho?
Liverpool’s management has said repeatedly that Philippe Coutinho is not for sale during this transfer window. They have been completely unwavering in their conviction. Despite Barcelona escalating their bids to a reported €160 million, Liverpool remains defiant. They’d look a bit silly if they went back on their hard-line stance on the final day of the window.
But the last time Liverpool said they wouldn’t sell Coutinho, they didn’t have Oxlade-Chamberlain. They didn’t have Naby Keita locked up for next season either. They might be willing to take Barca’s money for a player who is clearly annoyed by not being allowed to leave.
What now for Chelsea?
Good question. The Blues seemingly have quite a bit of money left in their budget and no one to spend it on. Danny Drinkwater is linked, but he can’t serve as a fill-in winger or wingback. They’ll need someone else for that role. Expect the Chelsea transfer rumors to get wild up until the deadline.
What now for Arsenal?
They’re likely to make bad deals that cripple them both now and into the future, just as they have consistently over the last 10 years. A replacement is unlikely. Arsene Wenger will probably say that the team didn’t need to spend because Santi Cazorla returning from injury is like a new signing.