Liverpool are refusing to be scared off by Arsenal’s £35million valuation of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as Jurgen Klopp steps up his pursuit of the unsettled England midfielder.
Arsenal have yet to hold any formal talks with Oxlade-Chamberlain over a new contract, even though the 23-year-old is about to enter the final 12 months of his existing deal, and Liverpool are eager to exploit the situation.
Klopp is a keen admirer of Oxlade-Chamberlain and hopes to take advantage of the uncertainty over the player’s future at Arsenal as well as his growing frustration at not being a regular starter.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has been introduced from the substitutes’ bench more times (13) than he has made starts (12) in the Premier League this season and was again omitted from the starting XI for Monday’s woeful 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace that dealt another serious blow to Arsenal’s hopes of a top four finish. Oxlade-Chamberlain also has his England prospects to consider.
Much of Arsenal’s focus in recent months has appeared to centre on the uncertain futures of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, who are also out of contract at the end of next season and at risk of leaving, while others have been left to stew.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has been told talks will take place at the end of the season but the prospect of the midfielder leaving is another troubling headache for Arsenal’s embattled manager, Arsene Wenger.
Jack Wilshere, the 25-year-old England midfielder currently on loan at Bournemouth, and left back Kieran Gibbs, 27, are two others out of contract in June next year.
Arsenal sold Robin van Persie to Manchester United for £24 million in August 2012, when the Holland striker was in the final year of his contract, so their £35 million plus valuation of Oxlade-Chamberlain seems optimistic.
Liverpool would be confident of driving that price down and believe the changes being brought about at Anfield by Klopp, who wants to add to a strong nucleus of English players featuring Adam Lallana, Jordan Henderson, Nathaniel Clyne and James Milner among others, will appeal to Oxlade-Chamberlain.
A potentially tumultuous summer lies in store for Arsenal, with Wenger’s future the subject of intense debate, and there are a plethora of other issues. Ozil was non-committal about his future in an interview the Germany playmaker gave over the weekend but the Sanchez predicament is particularly pressing, with Arsenal in grave danger of losing their leading scorer.
Paris St-Germain are understood to be the favourites to sign Sanchez ahead of Chelsea or Manchester City in the event the Chile forward decides to leave this summer, when Arsenal would be far keener to sell him to an overseas club than allow him to join a direct rival, as they did with Van Persie.
Van Persie joined United and then played a central role in helping to deliver the Premier League title with 27 goals in the competition and Arsenal are eager to avoid a repeat situation. Both Chelsea and City want to sign Sanchez, and United are also thought to be monitoring the situation, but striking a deal would be far from straight-forward.