Connect with us


Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: Liverpool glory, regrets and what his future holds



Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: Liverpool glory, regrets and what his future holds

There is a neat symmetry to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s Liverpool career drawing to a close today back at the club where it all began for him.

Oxlade-Chamberlain spent a decade moving up through Southampton’s academy ranks, and a further season in their first-team squad, before moving to Arsenal in 2011 just before turning 18 and from there to Anfield, courtesy of a £35million fee, six years later.

So if he does appear at St Mary’s this afternoon for a 147th and final time in Liverpool colours – he is leaving on a free transfer this summer at the end of his contract – there will be a poignancy which will not be lost either on him or the travelling throng from Merseyside.

Nobody could appraise Oxlade-Chamberlain’s time at Anfield and call it anything other than a success: five trophies, including a Champions League and a Premier League, see to that. And yet there will always be a nagging regret – a sense of ‘What if?’, surrounding the moment late in his debut season when a stretch to tackle Roma’s Aleksandar Kolarov changed the course of his career.

So, how to assess Oxlade-Chamberlain and his impact at Liverpool over the past six years? We spoke to those who have played with him, worked with him and watched him to find out.

When it emerged that Liverpool were signing Oxlade-Chamberlain on the final day of the summer 2017 transfer window, it was easy to understand why.

Newly turned 24, he had trophy-winning experience with Arsenal (including three FA Cups), obvious talent, 27 England caps and was about to enter his peak years. And, perhaps most crucial of all, he had versatility. Not only was he a powerful central midfielder, he had also spent time as a winger and at wing-back. If there is one attribute Jurgen Klopp thrives off it is positional fluidity and Oxlade-Chamberlain’s 18 starts for him in forward positions have certainly proven that.

Not that things started smoothly. His debut turned into an afternoon to forget as Manchester City thrashed Liverpool 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium, in a game where Sadio Mane was sent off in the first half for a high challenge on goalkeeper Ederson.

City would emerge as a theme of his Liverpool career.

Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first statement performance for the club came in the 4-3 revenge win over Pep Guardiola’s side at Anfield the following January (he scored the first goal in what was title-bound City’s first Premier League defeat all season) and by the time the teams met again in the Champions League quarter-finals three months later, his progress was such that the City manager felt compelled to namecheck him alongside Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.

Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates scoring against Manchester City in 2018 (Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

“We are going to try to score goals but we cannot deny three people running up front plus Chamberlain in the middle plus set pieces with Van Dijk – they are an extraordinary team,” he said.

Guardiola’s concerns were realised when Oxlade-Chamberlain scored his most memorable Liverpool goal in a 3-0 first-leg flooring of City at Anfield.

“Salah gets the early goal but it’s Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal (on 20 minutes) that changes the entire pace of the game,” says Harriet Prior, a presenter and producer for The Anfield Wrap podcast.

“It’s a classic situation where we keep the pressure on, we’re playing out from the back, we lose (possession) and then win the ball back. And Oxlade-Chamberlain gets the ball at his feet. He knows he’s not got anyone around and he thinks, ‘You know what? I’m going to hit this!’. Anfield went wild because that was the gap we needed to secure not only the first leg but the tie.”

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s rocket vs. Man City has been voted their Goal of the Season 🚀

What a strike 💥

— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 10, 2018

In the second leg a week later, he was there to frustrate Guardiola again, helping set up Salah’s away goal just before the hour which cancelled out Gabriel Jesus’ early opener. That put Liverpool 4-1 up on aggregate and when Firmino added a second 20 minutes later, Liverpool’s place in the semi-finals was effectively confirmed.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was a man inspired: he was at the heart of all Liverpool’s best football and helping them charge towards a potentially historic sixth European Cup. Life could hardly have been better.

But then came the moment that changed everything.

It arrived after 15 minutes of the semi-final’s first leg against Roma at Anfield: Oxlade-Chamberlain slid in for a tackle on Kolarov — a former Manchester City player — and their legs collided awkwardly. He was left writhing on the turf, clutching his right knee in agony, and that was effectively that. He did not play for Liverpool again that season, missing the World Cup in Russia in the process, and was also on the comeback trail for the majority of 2018-19.

“That injury is the moment of change for his career at Liverpool,” Prior adds. “There’s always going to be a sense of what might have been because he was having such a good season. He was starting in big games. He was improving week after week. That changed everything.”

The injury was complex. He had torn the anterior cruciate ligament and ruptured the lateral collateral ligament. There was also damage to the medial ligament and his hamstring tendon had a severe tear, too.

The tackle on Kolarov that left Oxlade-Chamberlain injured (Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

Renowned surgeon Andy Williams performed a full ACL reconstruction and used a graft from Oxlade-Chamberlain’s medial tendon to fix the hamstring damage. A long and difficult road lay ahead, but at least he was not alone, with Liverpool assigning Richie Partridge, one of their physiotherapists, to oversee his recovery.

Partridge, a former Liverpool player himself, first came across Oxlade-Chamberlain in his Arsenal days, during a youth game against the north London club. He had been working his way back from injury then too, and featured in a behind-closed-doors friendly, where Partridge was on physio duty for Liverpool.


Oxlade-Chamberlain on data: Taking risks, learning from De Bruyne and why we need to look beyond assists

Little did he know that a few years later he would be the one tasked with rehabilitating Oxlade-Chamberlain as a Liverpool player.

It was a challenging period for all concerned but Partridge, who left the club in 2020 to take up a role with the Qatar national team, actually has fond memories of the time spent both with Oxlade-Chamberlain and his family: the player was by then in a relationship with Little Mix pop star Perrie Edwards, who is now his fiancee and the mother of their son, Axel.

“We all knew he was a fantastic player, a powerful, explosive player,” Partridge tells The Athletic. “But what I got to know over the course of the next weeks and months was how good of a person he was in terms of his family life, his upbringing, and how he got to the stage he was at in his career.

“Even if he wasn’t a footballer, he would have made something of his life, be it in another sport or any industry. He’s charismatic and friendly. All these personality traits were coming through when I was getting to know him. And then there is his work ethic. He was always challenging me in terms of what more he could do, or could he do something different. It was challenging from a professional point of view but very rewarding. We helped each other.”

(Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Partridge was sent on rehab trips and even holidays with Oxlade-Chamberlain, to ensure he was getting the care he needed.

“I ended up in Greece with his family, and in America with his friends,” he says. “Even on holiday, he wanted to work every day. He wanted morning and evening sessions.”

And eventually, Oxlade-Chamberlain was ready to return.

It was not quite a big European night at Anfield – rather, it was a game for Liverpool Under-23s at Derby County’s academy – but journalists, photographers and a bigger-than-average crowd still turned out to see whether Oxlade-Chamberalin looked like he could scale the heights again.

“He was fucking quality,” says Daniel Atherton, who played in goal for Liverpool that day in March 2019. “On the way there, we found out he was playing. There’s a couple of lads that were disappointed, but the majority were buzzing they were going to be playing alongside him. He came in the changing room and straight away it was like he had always been with us.

“He was always one of the soundest and easiest to get on with in the first team. When I started training with the first team, I remember him calling me, ‘Striker-goalie’, every day after I went on up front against Tranmere in pre-season (in the summer of 2019). He was a proper down-to-earth person. He treated playing in Premier League 2 with the kids like it was Premier League.”

Atherton recalls seeing Oxlade-Chamberlain leaving that pitch in Derby with Partridge at his side after 40 minutes. He had been rocked by another setback – this time a hamstring issue – but his perseverance would pay off.

Just over a month later, Oxlade-Chamberlain came off the bench against Huddersfield Town in a Premier League game at Anfield. Klopp hailed his turnaround as “unbelievable”. It was a year and two days after he had been carried off that same pitch in agony. Now there he was, running back onto it with a smile, a proud moment for the player and those who had worked closely with him.

“The significance of his injury meant he needed two or three months more than usual to heal, recover and rehab properly,” Partridge says. “For that type of injury to come back in the timescale he did was incredible and a testament to him.”

Liverpool went on to miss out on the Premier League title to City that season by a single point, but consolation came with the club’s long-awaited sixth European Cup. After the previous year’s final defeat to Real Madrid in Kyiv, Oxlade-Chamberlain had hobbled onto the pitch on crutches, sobbing. This time, he was on the bench in Madrid for the 2-0 defeat of Tottenham Hotspur and duly collected a winner’s medal, before posing for pictures with the trophy, with his family and Edwards by his side.

Oxlade-Chamberlain dejected in Kyiv, left, and celebrating in Madrid a year later (Photos: Getty Images)

The next season, his impactful performances returned. His 30 appearances, four goals and an assist in the Premier League helped Liverpool finally end their 30-year wait to be domestic champions again.

He would never quite manage as many minutes and starts for Liverpool as in that 2019-20 campaign, but he has remained an integral figure behind the scenes, well-liked and respected by staff and his fellow pros alike, and retains a proud record of having the best win percentage across all competitions, when starting, of any player in club history.

Best win % when starting for Liverpool

StartsWonWin %

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain




Naby Keita




Virgil van Dijk




John Aldridge




Trent Alexander-Arnold








Minimum 50 wins as a starter

“Ox is a really nice guy,” forward Diogo Jota, who moved to Liverpool from fellow Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers after that league title win in 2020, tells The Athletic. “A really smart guy who you can chat to about pretty much everything.

“When you join a new club, you try to connect with people that you train with. When I arrived here he was injured, so it took a little bit of time for us to get to know each other but you could see from the games he had with us his technical ability and the way he drives the ball forward is really strong.

“He’s one of those that, with time, he can get really strong and I wish him the very best for the future, because anywhere he goes, if he has game time, he will show you how good he is.”

Quite where that future might unfold is unclear, although his recent remarks that he expects to be a return visitor to Anfield in its away dressing room indicated that his preference is to continue in the Premier League. There is no doubt that he still has plenty to offer and, turning 30 in August, still has time on his side.

Those who know him best have no doubt that his story at the top level of the game is far from over.

“From a footballing point of view when he’s on it, he’s fit and healthy, he’s a very dynamic, explosive and attractive player and top clubs will want him,” says Partridge, who met him recently for a coffee and a catch-up. “All he needs now is a bit of luck to get a chance and opportunity to show people on a weekly basis what he can do.

“Once he gets that, he’s still young enough where he can crack on. But it’s just getting that luck over the next 12 months to show people exactly what he can do again.”


Liverpool news: Alexis Mac Allister transfer plan emerges as Jurgen Klopp reveals issue

Liverpool are keen on signing Alexis Mac Allister from Brighton in the summer transfer window but will have to pay a pretty penny for his signature, with an eye-watering £60million mooted

Video Loading

Video Unavailable

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp previews the Southampton game

Rejoice, Liverpool fans, the season is almost over.

Sunday’s trip down to the south coast to face already-relegated Southampton will bring what’s been a wretched Premier League campaign for the Reds to an end. Jurgen Klopp’s men are confirmed to be finishing fifth, with Champions League football going to Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle instead.

Liverpool can therefore focus on the future, having already waved goodbye to a quartet of long-serving stars following last Saturday’s frustrating 1-1 draw at home to Aston Villa. Klopp and the Anfield hierarchy are now out to replace them in the summer transfer window, but it won’t be easy to get their top targets.

Here’s a round-up of the latest news from Anfield.

Mac Allister’s transfer plan emerges

Alexis Mac Allister’s father is due to fly into the UK next week, with a mission to seal the Brighton midfielder’s big-money move to Liverpool. The Reds have long been keen on signing Mac Allister, 24, but must agree terms with the player and stump up enough cash to meet Brighton’s lofty asking price, expected to be around £60million.

TyC Sports claim that Mac Allister’s father, who also acts as his son’s agent, will fly over from their homeland of Argentina next week in a bid to finalise the major transfer move, which the report claims is at an advanced stage.

Read the full story HERE.

Alexis Mac Allister is reportedly close to sealing a move to Liverpool 

Have your say! Who should Liverpool sign this summer? Let us know your picks in the comments section.

Klopp admits to finale struggle

Jurgen Klopp has confessed that he’s struggling to deal with the process of having nothing to play for on the final day of the Premier League season. This time last year, the Reds were on the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple, but now Klopp and co head to already-relegated Southampton knowing that they’ll finish fifth regardless of results.

“I am not used to games on the last matchday when everything is sorted,” the Liverpool manager revealed in his pre-match press conference. “I am used to games when everything is at stake but we play this game to win the game.”

More from Klopp HERE.

Jurgen Klopp is used to drama on the final day but he won’t get much this season



Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Youngster set to depart

Liverpool’s teenage sensation, Elijah Gift, is set to leave the club after the Reds agreed a deal to sell him to Athletic Bilbao. The Spanish winger, 16, has regular played for the Reds’ under-18 side this year, having joined from Huddersfield Town when he was at U12 level.

The Athletic report that Liverpool’s deal with the LaLiga club is expected to be worth £1million. Gift, who’s set to celebrate his 17th birthday next month, is a local to his prospective new club, having been born in the Basque town of Corella.

Read the full story HERE.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *