Klopp delighted to tie Van Dijk down to new Liverpool deal
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The loss of Gini Wijnaldum is still weighing heavily on Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp ahead of the new season. The Dutch midfielder was an integral cog in the Reds midfield which has tasted both domestic and European success over the past few years but departed on a free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain this summer.
Speaking on Friday, ahead of Liverpool’s opening Premier League clash against Norwich, Klopp continued to bemoan Wijnaldum’s absence.
“Gini was the most consistently available players,” he said. “I loved his way of playing and how reliable he was. But he’s not here anymore.
“You tell me if you would sign a midfielder, and I will think about it.”
But perhaps Klopp’s reluctance to dip into the transfer market is perhaps because the Dutchman’s replacement is already right under his nose.
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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has come back fighting after a torrid time with injuries.
The former Arsenal man had nailed down a starting berth in the Reds title-winning campaign before being sidelined for over a year with an ACL injury.
It’s easy to forget that Oxlade-Chamberlain also played a pivotal role in the engine room for Liverpool before that devastating injury blow – especially in the Champions League.
Klopp has plenty of options at his disposal, including Curtis Jones, Naby Keita and the impressive Harvey Elliott, but arguably none are quite as well placed as Oxlade-Chamberlain to take up the mantle.
The 27-year-old has enjoyed an impressive pre-season, managing to register an injury-free pre-season as he attempts to muscle his way in on Klopp’s midfield.
He has certainly given Klopp food for thought ahead of the trip to Norwich at the weekend.
The Reds boss quipped that “Ox was on fire!” during their 3-1 victory over Osasuna to round off their Premier League preparations.
Oxlade-Chamberlain will be gunning to plug the gap Wijnaldum has left in the middle of the park after an impressive summer building his way back to fitness.
The England ace has repeatedly stressed his desire to star in a central midfield role – a factor that played a big part in his decision to leave Arsenal for Anfield in a £35m deal back in 2017.
“I feel a lot of my best performances for Arsenal came in midfield but I never played consistently in that position,” Oxlade-Chamberlain told Ian Wright previously.
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With no replacement seemingly forthcoming in the wake of Wijnaldum’s departure, there may never be a better opportunity for Oxlade-Chamberlain to reclaim his coveted central berth.
If Oxlade-Chamberlain can rediscover the sparkling form that he showcased in that historic 2019/2020 campaign, then he can be the man to fill the vacancy left by Wijnaldum.
The midfielder was linked with a loan move away from Anfield earlier this summer, but that was dismissed by Klopp.
And that decision could be vindicated if Oxlade-Chamberlain can replicate his majestic pre-season form when Premier League action returns.
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