'Ox' out for season as Reds close in on Alisson
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to miss the entire season as he continues his rehabilitation from a knee injury.
The Liverpool midfielder sustained multiple ligament damage in the Champions League semi-final against Roma in April and, having refused to offer a potential return date at the time, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp yesterday suggested any competitive return during the 2018-19 season would be a "bonus".
It is a shattering revelation for a player who missed the Champions League final and World Cup and came on a day the Reds moved closer to signing Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson from Roma for £67m (€75m).
Klopp said Oxlade-Chamberlain (24) knew the severity of the injury but wanted it kept private initially to avoid a downbeat mood at a time when his team were competing for the Champions League.
"It is typical of 'Ox' that he didn't want the news to overshadow the end of the season and, to be quite honest, we thought we could wait and tell people at an appropriate time," said Klopp. "It feels like now is an appropriate time to tell people that, for 'Ox', this coming season will be about focusing on recovery and rehab.
"We have known this from pretty much the day after he got the injury and after the successful surgery, we were sure of it. There has been no change, no setback - it's exactly on the schedule we expected and planned for. His surgery - which he had on the day of our second leg in Rome - has been successful and his recovery has started superbly.
"But the truth of the matter is that we are preparing this season knowing he will not be with us on the pitch for competitive matches for the majority of it. If we do see him this season it will be a bonus."
Liverpool’s transfer plans have been proceeding accordingly, Klopp’s purchase of two midfielders – Naby Keita and Fabinho – and attacker Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City, compensating for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s absence.
These are the players to fill the void left by Oxlade-Chamberlain. There are no plans to add another short-term replacement. Captain Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Adam Lallana and Georginio Wijnaldum ensure there are still plenty of midfield options.
Oxlade-Chamberlain moved to Anfield from Arsenal last August for £35m (€39m) and, once settled, made himself a crowd favourite – demonstrating the potential many felt unfulfilled at The Emirates.
He struck two wonder goals against Manchester City in the Premier League and Champions League and was certain to have started the final against Real Madrid but for his injury. He would also most likely have been a starter for Gareth Southgate in Russia.
At the time of his operation, Oxlade-Chamberlain spoke of his devastation as he was resigned to a prolonged spell on the sidelines.
The Oxlade-Chamberlain disclosure balanced on otherwise encouraging day at Anfield with goalkeeper Alisson close to joining.
Klopp will declare himself happy with Liverpool’s transfer business, although he has not yet filled the No 10 jersey vacated by Philippe Coutinho last January. It is conceivable he will not do so in this window.
Liverpool ended interest in Nabil Fekir before the World Cup having agreed a fee with Lyon and, despite several erroneous reports since, have shown no inclination to revive the deal.
Fekir’s move broke down after a medical. Nothing has changed since, with suggestions Liverpool wanted to restructure payments incorrect. (© Daily Telegraph, London)