Liverpool and England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is expected to miss the entire Premier League season as he continues his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury.
As Liverpool prepare to for another significant addition - Roma keeper Alisson is on the verge of a world record £67 million transfer - the club is resigned to losing one of the stars of last season for another 12 months.
Oxlade-Chamberlain suffered multiple ligament damage in the Champions League semi-final against Roma in April. He underwent surgery shortly after.
Having refused to offer a timescale for recovery then, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has now confirmed he is prepared for the 24-year-old’s lengthy absence, suggesting any competitive game time during the 2018-19 campaign will be a ‘bonus’.
It is a shattering revelation for a player who missed the Champions League final and World Cup due to the bad luck, but one Klopp says he was informed about when the injury was sustained. The manager says the player wanted the depressing information kept private at the time to avoid a downbeat mood at the climax of last season when his teammates were competing for the Champions League.
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“It is typical of Ox that he didn’t want the news to overshadow the end of the season and, to be quite honest, we thought we could wait and tell people at an appropriate time,” said Klopp.
“It feels like now is an appropriate time to tell people that for Ox this coming season will be about focusing on recovery and rehab.
“We have known this from pretty much the day after he got the injury and after the successful surgery, we were sure of it. There has been no change, no setback – it’s exactly on the schedule we expected and planned for. The new information is that we’re now giving more detail publicly.
“His surgery – which he had on the day of our second leg in Rome – has been completely successful and his recovery has started superbly well.
“But the truth of the matter is that we are preparing this season knowing he will not be with us on the pitch for competitive matches for the majority of it. If we do see him back this season it will be a bonus.”
Liverpool’s transfer plans have been proceeding accordingly, Klopp’s purchase of two midfielders – Naby Keita and Fabinho – and attacker Xherdan Shaqiri compensating for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s absence.
Captain Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Adam Lallana and Georginio Wijnaldum ensure there are still plenty of midfield options.
Klopp says the strength in depth makes it easier to ease Oxlade-Chamberlain back rather than rush his return.
“It is so important – because of how valuable and important he is to what we are looking to do here in the coming seasons – that the focus is on doing this right and not rushed,” said Klopp.
“Ox is completely on board with this approach.”
While Oxlade-Chamberlain prepares for a season of rehabilitation, Liverpool’s extensive investment to bridge the gap to Manchester City is continuing.
Brazil’s number one Alisson is expected to undergo a medical shortly with Liverpool and Roma having agreed a world record fee for a goalkeeper that will eventually see the price rise to £67 million.
Alisson is currently on holiday after his World Cup efforts but was given permission to speak to Klopp, whose powers of persuasion are expected to ensure any rival bids are futile. Chelsea are also interested, but only Liverpool's bid has been accepted.
The 25-year-old’s arrival will secure the number one position and leave Loris Karius considering his future. Karius has been demoted upon his return to Melwood, his status diminished after his poor Champions League final performance.
Liverpool woes continue
The Reds have had a number of significant injuries to contend with over the past year, and here Press Association Sport looks at what has been on the list.
Matip's last appearance of 2017-18 came in March, with the Cameroon centre-back sustaining a thigh injury against Crystal Palace and subsequently undergoing an operation. He made his return to action last week in a pre-season friendly at Bury.
Gomez is another, like Oxlade-Chamberlain and Matip, whose season was ended prematurely by injury and surgery. The defender's hopes of featuring at the World Cup - and the Champions League final - were dashed as he underwent an operation in early May to correct an ankle problem picked up while playing for England in March. He started Liverpool's opening friendly of pre-season, a 7-0 win at Chester, on July 7.
Germany midfielder Can made what proved to be his final appearance for Liverpool, before moving on to Juventus this summer, in the Champions League final on May 26 having not played since March 17 because of a back injury.
Lallana's 2017-18 campaign did not start until November due to a thigh problem and, after making three starts and 10 substitute appearances thereafter, he went to South Africa in April for specialist treatment after a hamstring injury forced him off in the Palace match on March 31. The midfielder went on to feature in Liverpool's final two games of the season before missing out on going to the World Cup, having only made England's five-man standby list for the tournament. He played and scored in a 3-2 friendly win over Tranmere last week.
Clyne injured his back last summer and did not make his first appearance of last term until the goalless Merseyside derby draw at Everton in April. The right-back featured five times before the season concluded.
The striker did not play for Liverpool again in 2017-18 after coming on as a substitute against Spartak Moscow on December 6, with a hamstring issue sidelining him before he moved to West Brom in January on loan for the rest of the season. Sturridge was forced off on his third appearance for the Baggies on February 12 with a hamstring problem and subsequently returned to action in April.
The Spanish full-back sustained an ankle injury in the Spartak Moscow match in December and was not back in the team until January 27.
Mane picked up a hamstring problem while on international duty with Senegal on October 7 and missed five Liverpool games before returning on November 4.