Nine changes. That’s the number of tweaks Jurgen Klopp made to the Liverpool team that beat Southampton 2-1 at St Mary’s on Tuesday night. Even still, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could not get into the starting eleven. He did not come off the bench either. He has now gone three months without a single minute of Premier League action, last appearing in a home win over Norwich on February 19. His last outing in any competition came on March 20 and he has completed a full 90 minutes just five times all campaign.
Even Luis Diaz – only signed in January – has amassed more minutes than the Southampton academy graduate, who cost £40million when he joined from Arsenal in 2017. Not starting against his former club, when James Milner, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott all did in a makeshift midfield trio, may just confirm that his time at Anfield is up.
He’s out of contract in the summer of 2023 and an exit surely now beckons even though Klopp said to beIN SPORTS post-match: “I hate myself for not bringing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on tonight. He is such a good player but you have to figure out how it works together.” The German, clearly, knows Oxlade-Chamberlain is worthy of more minutes than he’s getting right now.
For the good of his career the midfielder surely needs another move. And Liverpool would likely be open to a sale, perhaps for a fee of around £10m to £15m, given they will lose him for free in 12 months otherwise. Even if Milner rejects the offer of a contract and extension leaves this summer, Oxlade-Chamberlain will simply have too much competition at Liverpool next season.
Had he had a run of regular minutes, there’s every chance he might have re-established himself as a key contributor again. But Oxlade-Chamberlain’s long-term injury came with dreadful timing and he has never truly discovered the same level since, despite an eight-goal season in the title-winning 2019-20 season. By this stage, all parties would seemingly benefit from a separation.
Perhaps a Newcastle or an Aston Villa, the ambitious teams aiming to get into Europe in the coming seasons, might consider a cheap deal. Oxlade-Chamberlain certainly has the ability to be a consistent starter for a team at that level. At Liverpool, his biggest problem is a lack of rhythm but the other midfield options available to Klopp are too strong for him ever to be a regular starter once again.
If he’s not getting game time at Southampton, with so many changes made, the writing is on the wall. His Liverpool career is now surely over. It has not panned out quite the way he wanted, despite the medals he has picked up. But there is plenty he can still offer to another club. Klopp, by the sounds of things, would love to see him succeed elsewhere.