Rivals for Champions League place line up to snatch Klopp’s ‘top-class’ midfielder from Liverpool

Matt Stead
Liverpool midfielders Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has attracted intense summer interest from two English sides challenging Liverpool for a Champions League qualification place.

Oxlade-Chamberlain is almost certain to leave Liverpool upon the expiration of his contract at the end of this season, having played just 12 games for the club in yet another injury-hit season.

Although the 29-year-old joined Liverpool from Arsenal for Β£35m in summer 2017, Oxlade-Chamberlain has started just 56 games in the Premier and Champions League for the Reds.

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With no contract renewal expected, Oxlade-Chamberlain will be a free agent whose physical problems will not preclude interest in his services.

Aston Villa, Brighton and Newcastle have been named as potential suitors.

All three of those sides are sure to be in the Premier League next season as they are clear of the relegation rabble in the bottom half. Villa have distant hopes of European qualification after Unai Emery’s turnaround, but the other two teams can be confident of playing continental tournament football next season.

Newcastle are fifth and Brighton are seventh, both boasting games in hand on the teams around them. Liverpool are directly in between them, five points behind the Magpies but level with the Seagulls, having played a match more.

Oxlade-Chamberlain also has unnamed clubs in Serie A keeping a keen eye on developments, but the Daily Mail stress that he ‘is focused on helping Liverpool finish in the top four before he takes the next step in his career’. Which is nice but his three Premier League appearances in 2023 have been disastrous: five minutes of the 3-0 defeat to Wolves in February; over an hour of the 3-0 loss to Brighton in January; and nearly the entirety of the 3-1 reverse against Brentford at the start of the year, in which he scored.

Jurgen Klopp will be sad to see Oxlade-Chamberlain leave, describing the player’s pre-season fitness setback – one of many muscle problems – as “very disappointing for us because Oxlade trained all the time really well”.

“He is obviously a top-class player and he can help us,” the German said at the time in a hopeful but ultimately misguided message.

Southampton and Leicester have also been linked with Oxlade-Chamberlain recently. Earlier this year, the player sought to allay concerns over his body in an interview with BBC Sport.

“To be honest, I only had the hamstring injury this season,” he said. “When the game time is down, people sometimes correlate that with an injury. Actually, over a two-year spell, I only had the hamstring but wasn’t playing as much.

“Being fit, available and wanting to play and not playing as much as you like is obviously more tough as a footballer.

“There is a lot of competition for places so, when you do get the opportunity, it makes you that little bit more hungry to make sure you take them. I still feel like there is more in me, for sure.”