It’s been a positive few weeks away from the football pitch for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, culminating in his engagement to Little Mix star Perrie Edwards.
But in just over a week’s time, the Liverpool midfielder will have to shift his focus back on the pitch, as the Reds return to pre-season action ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.
Considering Oxlade-Chamberlain has made just one appearance for the club since the end of February, in the FA Cup against Nottingham Forest, the fact that he will still be at the AXA Training Centre come the end of July should surprise a few.
But despite his lack of minutes, Liverpool have reportedly decided to keep the midfielder, who has just one year left on his current deal at Anfield.
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It’s a curious decision. Whether it was motivated by a lack of interest or simply by Liverpool’s lack of depth at right-wing and in midfield is anyone’s guess.
But regardless of the logic behind the decision, staying at the club gives Oxlade-Chamberlain possibly one last hurrah to fight himself into the reckoning. With the midfielder in and around his his prime years, this could be the perfect opportunity to regain some momentum in pre-season and break into Jürgen Klopp‘s side.
The 28-year-old averaged 0.35 goal contributions per 90 last season, which is not a bad return for a player still adjusting to the rhythm of the game after two long-term injuries. He was particularly impressive during the month of January, covering adequately in Mohamed Salah‘s absence with two goals in two Premier League games while the Egyptian was on African Cup of Nations duty.
At times he did look a little rusty, but at his best, Oxlade-Chamberlain is still a player with a lot to offer for Liverpool. During his debut campaign and in the club’s 2019/20 season, he showed those qualities with his boisterous energy on the pitch and his venomous long-range ability to strike the ball from distance.
In pre-season, Oxlade-Chamberlain will have an opportunity to get a steady run of games, and prove his worth to Klopp once again.
Given that the World Cup squads for Qatar later this year have now been increased from 23 players to 26, the 28-year-old has also been given an extra window of opportunity to break himself back into the England squad. He will know, as Jesse Lingard proved while on loan at West Ham, that a route back into Gareth Southgate’s squad is always a possibility with a good run of games.
The moment is now or never for Liverpool’s forgotten star and the added motivation of a possible place in England’s World Cup squad should make pre-season his for the taking. Motivations do not come much bigger.
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