Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain turned down Premier League champions Chelsea in favour of a switch to Liverpool. Many reports cite the fact the Reds are offering the Arsenal man more minutes in midfield as the reason behind his decision.
It was initially thought that the two clubs wouldn’t do business. There’s still bad blood between the Premier League rivals after Liverpool rejected Arenal’s bid for Luis Suarez back in the summer of 2013 and then added a clause to Roberto Firmino’s contract which stated he wasn’t allowed to move to the Emirates.
However, with Oxlade-Chamberlain’s contract running down the Gunners have been forced into making a decision.
Do they do business with the Reds and ensure they receive a fee or do they continue their grudge and see him walk away for nothing next summer?
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It appears as though Arsenal made a decision based primarily from a business point of view. They’ve invited Liverpool to make an offer for the 24-year-old and Liverpool responded with an opening bid of £30million for the contract rebel.
The Gunners, however, want closer to £40million.
Is he worth the money? When you weigh up everything, probably not. But the market this summer has been like no other so paying £40million for a versatile player with 27 England caps to his name doesn’t sound that bad right now.
In the graphic above you see his stats for last season. He was used in a number of roles and finished the season playing as a right wing-back.
This makes it difficult to really read into the numbers because there are question marks over whether or not he’d be able to replicate them if he played the entirety of the season in one position.
Take for example his dribbling stats. Only Barcelona transfer target Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mané completed more than the Arsenal man but playing as a wing-back it’s perhaps easier to isolate an opponent and beat them for pace – you’re running into more space than a normal wide player so speed is invaluable here.
Could he post similar numbers when operating in a centre-midfield role? It’s a lot more compact and there’s less space to fully exploit.
His assists, too, are something to look at. Of the seven goals he created last season five of them came from crosses into the penalty area. If he’s playing centrally he’s not going to find himself in the areas to put crosses into the area.
Oxlade-Chamberlain won’t be able to create from wide areas, not as deep anyway, so his ability to play incisive balls from central areas will be under the microscope.
As a centre-midfielder he’s a bit of an unknown and last season £40million would’ve seemed excessive.
But now it’s the norm. He certainly adds something to the Liverpool squad but he shouldn’t arrive instead of Liverpool transfer target Thomas Lemar.