London (AFP) – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is itching to start work with Liverpool manager Jurgen 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 ($45.8 million, 38.1 million euros) 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.
“The thing that stood out for me was his relationship with the players, how close he seems to bond with the players on and off the field.
“That’s massive and it’s definitely a big plus when you’re looking to progress, having that relationship with the manager.
“And then obviously the way his teams play. That’s definitely inspirational for me and was one of the instrumental (reasons) — if not the main reason — 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 retaining 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.
– Deadline-day disappointment –
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 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 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, who made his debut in the win over Bournemouth after overcoming a muscle strain.
“I’m excited and really looking forward to play my first home match.
“I came to the Premier League to play in matches of this calibre. Above all at home, it will be great to play in front of our own fans.”
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