Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will leave Liverpool at season’s end and one observer has predicted he’ll be forced to sign a humbling contract with his next club.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was a surprise addition to Liverpool’s squad way back in 2017 when bought for £35m from Arsenal. Aged 24 at the time, the central midfielder enjoyed a fruitful first season that saw him rack up 32 Premier League appearances – still the highest single-season total of his career.
However, he suffered a serious knee injury during a Champions League clash with Roma towards the end of the campaign that proved a sign of things to come.
Injuries have ravaged his time on Merseyside since then, with just 137 appearances made in five-and-a-half seasons. That equates to just 25 appearances per year, a painfully low figure given it also includes the domestic cups and European competitions.
Oxlade-Chamberlain did return to full fitness towards the tail-end of last season, though regularly failed to make Jurgen Klopp’s matchday squads as Liverpool battled for the quadruple.
He was heavily linked with a summer exit to clubs such as West Ham. However, a move failed to materialise, ensuring he’d remain for the final year of his contract.
The injury bug has once again this season, with the midfielder restricted to just four appearances and one start in the EFL Cup versus Derby County.
Liverpool star will leave for nothing next summer
Fabrizio Romano recently reported Oxlade-Chamberlain is ‘expected to leave in 2023’ as a free agent. There are currently no discussions in the works regarding an extension, and a cut-price January sale seemingly isn’t on the agenda either.
As such, the 29-year-old may have to take it upon himself to find a new club next summer, and one pundit believes a humbling contract will have to be signed in lieu of his injury woes.
Speaking to Football Insider, former Premier League striker, Noel Whelan, stated a pay-as-you-play deal might be required.
That would be a huge come down for a player who is still in his 20s and who amassed 35 England caps, scoring seven goals along the way.
However, Whelan cited the recent example of Aaron Ramsey’s failed loan stint at Rangers. The Welshman also endures frequent trips to the treatment table and was limited to just 13 appearances while on loan at Ibrox from Juventus.
Injury history to limit Ox options
“I think it might be a pay-as-you-play contract,” said Whelan.
“That’s the more sensible way to go about it when you’ve got a player who has a terrible injury record.
“Clubs have to cover their own back. Of course, they’d love a player like Oxlade-Chamberlain – but they want a player who can get fit and stay fit.
“With that pay-as-you-play contract he can show his qualities out there on the field. Everyone knows he’s a quality player.
“But there’s that doubt that will be in the back of the minds of these clubs. Can he stay fit? Can he play 10 games on the bounce?
“We’ve seen it with Aaron Ramsey. He went to Rangers and couldn’t manage it.”
The only club to draw recent links with Oxlade-Chamberlain is Southampton.
Oxlade-Chamberlain rose through the Saints’ academy as a youngster and a return to familiar surroundings may be in store.
Southampton have also shown a willingness to re-sign former players at the back end of their careers of late, such as Theo Walcott.