Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger spoke to the media this morning and was very clear in his opinion that his midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will not be allowed to leave the club this summer.
£25 million offer previously touted
Oxlade-Chamberlain is currently away with Arsenal in Australia but has been consistently linked with a switch to Liverpool, who finished a place above his current side last season, for a number of months.
With just a year left on his contract, the suggestion was that Liverpool would want to take the player now for a fee of around £25 million, with Reds boss Jürgen Klopp seeing the England international as a good option for an upcoming season in which Liverpool will be playing many more matches.
He has proven in his time in London to be adept at playing in the centre of midfield and out wide, and also played as a wing-back at times last season.
Any move to Liverpool was always said to be about more playing time in his favoured central berth, and whilst that was probably no more likely on Merseyside than at the Emirates, the links to the Reds persisted.
"I expect him to stay"
Wenger responded with a clear stance.
“100%. I expect him to stay. No matter the speculation, he will stay,” the Frenchman said. He would not expand any further than that.
Arsenal risk losing the player for free next summer when the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea are also likely to be interested in Oxlade-Chamberlain. Yet they still have a chance of persuading him to resign and extend his deal.
Marginally improved terms of around £80,000-per-week have been discussed, but Chamberlain has refused to agree on a new contract so far. Liverpool know only too well that agent Aidy Ward, who Oxlade-Chamberlain shares with Raheem Sterling, can prove to be a difficult person to deal with.
Arsenal have also been linked with AS Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe, a player that has interest from all over Europe but Wenger says he expects the 18-year-old to stay where he is for now.
Liverpool would have been in the equation had the striker wanted to move to England, but he was never a priority target. He was another who would very much have been a bonus for Klopp.
Robertson and Keita set to sign
Even if Oxlade-Chamberlain signing for Liverpool is out of the question – and although Wenger’s comments suggest it is, stranger things have happened in the market – deals for Hull City’s Andrew Robertson and RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita are getting closer.
Many reports suggest Robertson and Keita could be Liverpool players within the next week or two.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was always seen as a bonus signing for the Reds, with those two plus a centre-back considered of greater importance but as it stands that might not be a deal that gets over the line. Negotiations over a new deal continue as Liverpool press ahead with other targets.