With the World Cup right around the corner, players are desperately trying to make a case for their inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s England squad. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has long been in the mix for the national side, but with prolific attacking talent available in his usual positions on the flanks, his starting berth in the summer tournament is in doubt. Now that the former Arsenal man has been shifted to a midfield role at Liverpool, however, his hopes appear a little brighter.
During his time at the Emirates, the Ox was mainly utilised by Arsene Wenger down the wings. And although the 24-year-old has shown significant potential ever since his career began at Southampton, Liverpool’s summer signing has yet to set the world alight. To be willing to fork out £35 million on the youngster in the summer, Jürgen Klopp obviously thinks that he can tap into Oxlade-Chamberlain’s talent and turn him into a world-beater. Since moving to Anfield, the Portsmouth-born player has taken up more of a central role in Klopp’s system, and this could be where he excels.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is beginning to find his feet under his new manager, and now knows what is expected of him. If he keeps improving over the course of the season in his new position in the middle of the park, Southgate will be forced to take note. England are light on strong players in central midfield, and Oxlade-Chamberlain has perhaps targeted this weakness as an area in which he can shine. In the summer, he stated that he didn’t see himself as an orthodox winger, and was looking forward to the positional change.
As it stands, in the World Cup betting odds, England can be backed at around 16/1 to win the tournament in Russia, with a number of operators offering new customers the chance to minimise their outlay with a number of free bets via Oddschecker. Although the Three Lions have some excellent in-form forward players at their disposal in Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, and Dele Alli, it’s in the middle and at the back where they are lacking. The emergence of a strong central midfielder would be a highly useful addition for Southgate.
Arsenal offered Oxlade-Chamberlain £180,000-a-week to stay in North London, but the player chose to move to Merseyside for £120,000 per week. The fact that he essentially took a pay-cut to have the chance to work under Klopp shows that he is eager to improve his game. If he continues to progress for Liverpool for the remainder of the season, as he has in the first half, he may find that his starting berth in England’s midfield is nailed down.