Arsenal’s versatile midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been heavily linked with a surprise move to Liverpool in recent months, but there are doubts over the validity of such claims.
His current deal with the Gunners expires next season, which has naturally intensified claims that he’s ready for a new challenge elsewhere in the Premier League. However, this is why the ongoing news story surrounding his future isn’t particularly credible.
Across all sources that have suggested or speculated about the Ox’s long-term future in recent months, I’m yet to find one that justifies why he’d want to leave, apart from wanting to play in the UEFA Champions League next season.
When you delve deeper into Liverpool’s situation though, it’s unlikely that they’ll qualify past the group stage phase and if successful, a last-16 exit (naturally, the same place that Arsenal crash out every season) is entirely plausible given they’ll be in pot four and have more challenging opposition to overcome.
What’s the point in him leaving, solely to play in the Champions League then? Unless he’s using Liverpool as a stepping stone to a lucrative move abroad, it wouldn’t make much sense. The fact that Arsenal themselves have had a poor season post-Christmas and still managed to only finish a point behind Jurgen Klopp’s side speaks volumes in terms of the ambition and level of success that the Reds themselves are used to.
Sure, he has twelve months remaining on his existing contract. But he himself said that he’d only consider his future at the club if he felt he wasn’t playing enough and unsurprisingly, he has excelled with less injuries this season than the previous three.
Back in mid-October last year he said, “I love being at Arsenal. It’s a great club, a great team and I have a lot of faith in the team. I just want to keep focusing on that but there is that in my mind where I want to get more game time.”
Does that comment sound like someone who is angling for a move away?
No, quite the opposite. Wenger has remained patient and utilised Alex in a range of different positions whether that be at right-back, a wing-back, central midfield or on the wing.
“When you are somewhere, you have to want to be there first. After that, the only thing I can say is that personally I rate him highly. I showed that in the way I keep faith in him when he spent long times out injured. He’s developing very well at the moment,” said Wenger on the ox back in March.
It wasn’t too long ago that a cluster of Premier League clubs were monitoring his situation because Joel Campbell had emerged and seemingly taken his place in the side. Fast-forward just over a year, look how differently the two players are progressing.
One has been one of Arsenal’s best players this season, the other struggles to earn more than a quick cameo appearance with his loan side in Portugal…
At the start of May Wenger was asked about the 23-year-old’s future.
“His performances [at right wing-back] have been good, and positive,” Arsene stated.
“It looks like he makes a move forward. He has all the qualities to play well there. Hopefully it will give him confidence. Personally I think he has to commit his future to the club and I hope he will do so this summer.”
With all of that in mind, why would Alex feel like he needs to leave now? This whole story is very much gossip without the relevant justification to back up claims about the player’s future.