Why Liverpool signing Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could turn out to be one of the most important deals of the summer

The wait for Liverpool’s first major signing of the summer goes on, and save for the optimism generated by the promising Dominic Solanke there is starting to be a slight air of concern about that.

No club can do anything with the new footballers they recruit until at least next month, of course, but in this cycle of rolling news and even more rolling opinions there seems to be a constant state of urgency about transfers. Those who are “in the know” or are suspected to be are either repeatedly pressed for their updates or are repeatedly giving them anyway, and new signings during the summer are longed for with a greater yearning than three points are during the season.  

Progress will eventually be made, of course, and at the time of writing the noises around the deal for Roma’s Mohamed Salah are becoming louder. He’d be an exciting addition, obviously, and with the possible deals for Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keita still refusing to get off the table then hope still springs eternal.

There’s a fourth possible signing which seems to be growing momentum too, only people are less sure what to think about that.

Until last week it had appeared as though Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was all set to sign a new contract with Arsenal, prolonging what has been a strange time at the club but a time that you always just presumed would go on and on.

The Arsenal and England man is a curious player, too. He always seems capable of so much, but those moments are restricted to a short burst here, or a cameo there. His lack of consistency has as much to do with his time on the pitch as much as anything.

But with Liverpool first credited with an interest in him in January, it would appear that Jurgen Klopp is a fan – perhaps more so than supporters who have seen him play for the Gunners and still can’t quite make their minds up on him.

Injuries have been an issue, obviously, but this is a 23-year-old who has played almost 200 times for Arsenal and 27 times for England in his career. There is quite clearly something there.

Moreover, signing Oxlade-Chamberlain would allow Liverpool to thumb their nose at Arsenal having finished above them in the table, taking that all-important Champions League place from them.

Sure, he’s not Alexis Sanchez or Mesut Ozil, but from the Gunners’ point of view there would be a curious wastefulness about letting him go to the team that just finished one point and one place ahead of them – and that’s without mentioning Chelsea and Manchester City’s reported interest in him too. All three clubs want him because he’s a good young player with potential, so why are Arsenal risking letting such a figure go?

Of the three suitors you’d suspect that he’d have more chance of nailing down the guaranteed first team place that he wants at Liverpool, although where that position is certainly isn’t a given. Comparisons can be made with Brendan Rodgers signing James Milner on a free transfer two summers ago and both informing the world that Milner was arriving to play in central midfield, only for his rehousing to left-back under Klopp.

Oxlade-Chamberlain – who played at left wing-back during Arsenal’s FA Cup final victory over Chelsea last month – offers a variance and multi-functionality which would suit this Liverpool side. It is possible to imagine him both starting games in the attacking trio and perhaps playing a game at right-back if the Reds are at home and expected to win.

Providing that he is happy with this – because if he wants a guaranteed central midfield role then he’ll have to move outside the top six – and the price doesn’t get too silly (anything too far above £25m for a player in the last year of his contract shouldn’t be tolerated) then this could be a move worth making for Liverpool.

He might be seen as a bit of a vanity addition, or a boost in squad numbers ahead of a return to the Champions League, but the Reds have earned the right to do that so why not do it?

Other summer signings would be greeted with greater fanfare, but this one could be just as important.