Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has revealed the chance to work with Jurgen Klopp and fulfill his potential as part of a new project at Liverpool were the key factors for joining the Anfield club.
The England international, who ended his six-year stay with Arsenal last summer and turned down more money from Chelsea to move to Merseyside, believes he can take his career to the next level in front of the Kop after going stale in north London.
Indeed, the Ox already feels his decision to join Liverpool has been vindicated following a string of strong performances this term after an initial settling in period.
“I came here for a reason. I felt I needed a change and a new challenge,” the 24-year-old, who transferred from the Gunners for £35m on transfer deadline day, said in an interview with the Liverpool Echo.
“The manager was a big factor. I knew boys in the team and I knew I could speak to them. Over the years I’ve spoken to Hendo about Liverpool so I had good ideas about the club. There’s the history – it’s all very attractive. So when the opportunity came up, it felt like it was the only decision for me.
“The moment I walked through the door, I knew that was what I was going to face. I was put into a new environment and from minute one I knew it was something I could benefit from. I still believe that now.”
While the former Southampton midfielder did win two FA Cups with the Gunners, Oxlade-Chamberlain is confident he can target bigger honours with Liverpool and further his England ambitions.
He said: “I can keep developing and improving. The reason I came here was to push myself in a new environment and get the best out of myself and my career.
“Liverpool is a club that is looking to go and do good things and win things. Both of those things match up with my ambitions for myself. It seemed like the perfect match.”
Despite his relative success to date, Oxlade-Chamberlain admitted it wasn’t all plain sailing when he first joined the Reds – especially given he had to wait until November to make his full Premier League debut.
“There was a lot of controversy and talk, maybe it’s a time when you just want to get your head down and settle in,” he said.
“There’s a lot of noise around what’s happening and that can make things a bit difficult. It can be more difficult to settle in when people don’t step back and give you the time to have that bedding in period.
“I found it a challenge but one I was happy to take on. I didn’t mind too much people talking because I knew that what would happen. It happens to a lot of players and it’s all part and parcel of it. Once you clear that ridge and focus on getting your head down and playing more, I feel that’s where I am now.”
But, after coming through this period, the Ox said the support of German Klopp was fundamental to enable him to adjust.
“From day one, I wanted to play as much as possible, so I was always trying to do my best to put pressure on the manager to play me,” he said.
“I am not the type of character to go bursting walls down. I knew the manager would want me to learn the way he wants me to play and how to play best with the team. I knew there would be that process.
“Even when there were times I wasn’t playing as much as I would have liked, I respected I was the new boy and I had a lot of learning to do. So I got my head down and did exactly that. Slowly but surely, I got my foot in the door and started playing a bit more.
“I wasn’t going to let myself start thinking negatively, especially so early on. There was never a time I thought that I’d made the wrong decision.
“The manager has been brilliant ever since I’ve come here. He’s very positive and he’s someone who gives all the players a lot of belief.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed Alexis Sanchez’s future at the club is still undecided with both Manchester City and now Manchester United vying for his signature.
The Chilean star’s deal at the Emirates expires this summer and the 29-year-old is free to speak to other clubs.
At this stage, it looks unlikely he will sign a new contract at Arsenal but the north London side are insistent Sanchez will only be sold in January if a suitable replacement is found.
However, even though both City and United ready to pounce for the former Barcelona man this month, there has apparently been no more movement on a proposed transfer in the past 24 hours.
Speaking ahead of the Gunners’ away trip to Bournemouth on Sunday, Wenger told assembled media at the club’s London Colney training base: “Nothing is really concrete at the moment and nothing is decided one way or another. Normally he would stay at the club until the end of the season but we’ll see.”
More to follow…
Daniel Sturridge is expected to leave Liverpool during the January transfer window after the Kop club revealed they are prepared to listen to offers for the 28-year-old.
The Reds, according to the Liverpool Echo, would command at least £30m for his services as Southampton, West Ham and Newcastle all line-up to inject their squads with some much-needed firepower.
Sturridge has featured just 14 times in all competitions this season and struggled to hold down a regular spot with the form of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and of course Mohamed Salah keeping him out of the side.
However, if the former Manchester City and Chelsea striker still harbours hopes of being selected in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the World Cup in Russia this coming summer, then he needs to get more minutes on the pitch.
While Liverpool are set to hold firm over their asking price for Sturridge, it is also possible he could leave the club on loan this month.