Liverpool’s £35m Deadline Day signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain strengthens the Reds’ squad but not the starting XI, says Gary Neville.
Oxlade-Chamberlain left Arsenal to sign for the Merseyside club on Thursday after spending six years with the Gunners, where he made 198 appearances. And the 24-year-old has now set himself a new challenge of becoming a regular starter for Liverpool in the Premier League.
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September 9, 2017, 11:30am
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But Sky Sports football expert Neville does not believe Oxlade-Chamberlain is not necessarily going to start for the Reds in his desired central midfield position, despite his hefty transfer fee.
“He doesn’t get in the best XI,” Neville told Sky Sports News. “(Philippe) Coutinho, (Emre) Can, (Jordan) Henderson, (Adam) Lallana, (Mo) Salah, (Roberto) Firmino all play in front of him. Everyone seems to eulogising over him in the last 24 hours, but he doesn’t get in the best XI and strengthen their team.
“He does, however, strengthen their squad – he’s a player who could play in Jurgen Klopp’s style. He’s got a huge amount of talent and is a decent lad but he has three or four areas of his game which he has to significantly improve.
“The biggest being his focus and concentration and being a really top professional. I think his injury record is poor, too, he’ll need to work hard to stay fit.
“Also, his impact in terms of his assists and goals. With the Champions League and Premier League, he’ll be an asset for the squad.”
Neville insists Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is known for his versatility, has to prove himself in a fiercely-competitive atmosphere if he is to get in front of those who start in Liverpool’s midfield or forward line.
He added: “If you had said to me six months ago that you’d get £40m for Oxlade-Chamberlain, you’d snap your hand off – you’d say it’s a brilliant deal [for Arsenal].
“Now, we’re almost thinking Liverpool have a got a brilliant deal – I’m not sure why that’s shifted the opinion as he’s still got to prove himself. He wants to do well, but he needs to step up from being in a comfort zone.
“Liverpool will take him out of that – it’s not a place for the feint hearted, they won’t carry passengers, they won’t feel sorry for you. He’ll have to be a man when he goes up there.
“Ultimately we’ll find out a lot about Oxlade-Chamberlain in the next few months.”