‘Ox’ ex­cited by Klopp linkup

New re­cruit ex­pected to make de­but for Liver­pool against City

Global Times - Weekend - - SPORTS -

Alex Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain is itch­ing to start work with Liver­pool man­ager Juer­gen Klopp and could make his de­but in Satur­day’s Premier League head­line clash with Manch­ester City.

The Eng­land mid­fielder, 24, re­jected a new con­tract of­fer from Ar­se­nal and an ap­proach from cham­pi­ons Chelsea to join Liver­pool in a 35 mil­lion pound ($45.8 mil­lion) deal last week.

He said play­ing in Klopp’s swash­buck­ling team had been a key mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tor and he could scarcely have asked for a more high-oc­tane start than a show­down with Pep Guardi­ola’s big-spend­ing City.

“Watch­ing him, [you see] his pas­sion and how much he cares about the game,” Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain, nick­named “The Ox,” told the Liver­pool web­site.

“It’s def­i­nitely a big plus when you’re look­ing to progress, hav­ing that re­la­tion­ship with the man­ager … That’s def­i­nitely in­spi­ra­tional for me and was one of the in­stru­men­tal [rea­sons] that I felt this place was def­i­nitely the place for me.”

Seal­ing a move for Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain was one of two key pieces of dead­line-day busi­ness for Liver­pool, the other of which was re­tain- ing the ser­vices of Philippe Coutinho.

Coutinho submitted a trans­fer re­quest on the eve of the sea­son in the hope of join­ing Barcelona, but Liver­pool re­buffed three big-money bids from the Cata­lan gi­ants.

Hav­ing re­turned to ac­tion for Brazil dur­ing the in­ter­na­tional break fol­low­ing a spell on the side­lines with a back in­jury, Coutinho could make his re­turn to ac­tion at the Eti­had Sta­dium.

But while own­ers Fen­way Sports Group were adamant that Coutinho would not be sold at any cost, Liver­pool have not missed him in the sea­son to date.

A 4-0 thrash­ing of Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain’s Ar­se­nal on their last out­ing left them sec­ond in the ta­ble be­hind Manch­ester United and they beat Hof­fen­heim 6-3 over two legs to se­cure a Cham­pi­ons League group-phase berth.

City are level on points in fourth place, but they are yet to hit top gear.

They could only draw 1-1 with Ever­ton in their first home game and needed a scruffy 97th-minute goal from Ra­heem Ster­ling to snatch a 2-1 vic­tory at Bournemouth.

Ster­ling’s sub­se­quent dis­missal, af­ter he was shown a sec­ond yel­low card for run­ning into the crowd in cel­e­bra­tion, means he will miss the re­union with his for­mer club.

But right-back Kyle Walker re­turns af­ter com­plet­ing a one-match sus­pen­sion for his red card on his home de­but against Ever­ton.

De­spite spend­ing 221 mil­lion pounds on new play­ers in the trans­fer win­dow – more than any other club in Europe – City tasted dis­ap­point­ment on dead­line day af­ter miss­ing out on a move for Alexis Sanchez.

City were re­ported to have agreed a fee of around 60 mil­lion pounds with Ar­se­nal for the Chile for­ward, only for Ar­se­nal’s in­abil­ity to land Monaco winger Thomas Le­mar to scup­per the deal.

One player who did make it from Monaco to City was Ben­jamin Mendy, who is in line to make his home de­but against Liver­pool, hav­ing pre­vi­ously graced the Eti­had with Monaco last sea­son.

“Liver­pool at home, it’s a huge game,” said the France left back. “I’m ex­cited and re­ally look­ing for­ward to play my first home match.”

Photo: IC

Alex Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain of Eng­land drib­bles the ball dur­ing a World Cup qual­i­fier against Slo­vakia on Septem­ber 4 in Lon­don.

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