Transfer Grades: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Leaves Arsenal for Liverpool
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be switching Premier League clubs after six years with Arsenal, with Liverpool confirming a £35 million ($45 million) deal for the England international on transfer deadline day. Oxlade-Chamberlain, 24, joins Liverpool just days after the team defeated his former club 4–0 at Anfield over the weekend.
Here's how this deal grades for all parties involved:
For Liverpool: B
Just about all Liverpool-related news in this transfer window has concerned the constant "will-he-won't-he?" surrounding playmaker Philippe Coutinho. Capturing Oxlade-Chamberlain helps bury that news somewhat, which will be a welcome positive for a club looking to secure a top-four place while challenging for titles domestically and in Europe this season. Beyond that, so much of Oxlade-Chamberlain's value to Liverpool will depend on how he will be used.
If Jurgen Klopp decides to use him exclusively as an attacking wide man, where he played often for Arsenal, his value might be limited as Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, and the injured Adam Lallana all have strong claims to those positions. However, as a defender, Oxlade-Chamberlain could provide Klopp with an intriguing attacking option at right back in his current system, along with the ability to be a wingback in a 3–4–3 similar to what Arsenal has used early this season. The latter might arguably be his strongest position, but Liverpool hasn't featured that look much yet.
For Arsenal: D
A woeful beginning to the season goes on for Arsene Wenger & Co. Not only were the Gunners utterly dominated by Liverpool last weekend, they have now lost one of their more reliable players, who just turned 24, to a Premier League rival. With Alexis Sanchez also rumored to be on the way out, and the team's defense already struggling to contain opponents, losing a robust, energetic player like Oxlade-Chamberlain will hurt quite a bit. There is no readymade replacement already in the Arsenal squad that can do what Oxlade-Chamberlain does, and perhaps the best option on the transfer market (Serge Aurier) has already gone to Tottenham. On the plus side, £35 million is quite a bit to get for a player that was in the last year of his contract and didn't appear to want to sign a new one. So while the move may make business sense, it leaves Arsenal with problems to solve on the field.
For Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: B+
He only just turned 24 earlier this month, so Ox still has a long career ahead of him despite being a regular on the club and international scene for the last five-plus years. However, he is a player that is now entering his prime, and it was up to him to make a move that would see him in a good position to improve as a player with a chance to win trophies in that time. Increasingly, it looks like that wasn't going to happen at Arsenal, hence why he rejected the club's latest contract offer earlier this summer. While Liverpool may not have an exact role carved out for him yet, there will be more chances to earn a spot on the field than there might be at Chelsea, where he reportedly rejected a deal earlier this week.