Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made the brave decision to swap Arsenal for Liverpool in a £35m deal last summer and it’s one he hasn’t regretted.
A cruciate ligament injury has kept the 25-year-old out since April and he isn’t expected to return until the end of the season, but before that happened all was well.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was patient and worked hard to become a guaranteed starter under Jurgen Klopp and was really blossoming as a central midfielder.
And he’s expected to resume that role when he does eventually return because of the speed and directness he provides in the middle of the park.
So why did he leave Arsenal in the first place? The answer is simple: Oxlade-Chamberlain’s career was stalling somewhat and he needed a fresh start.
“It was a really hard decision,” he said on his move in 2017, per Sky Sports. “It’s an honour to play for a club like Arsenal.
“It’s an amazing place to play, it was stable, you build relationships, but I felt I had to do it for football reasons to try and better myself.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain spent six years at Arsenal but never truly cemented his place in Arsene Wenger’s team, for various reasons.
Frequent injuries played a part, while there was always a big fight for places going on at Arsenal due to their sheer amount of attacking options.
However, according to football writer Alan Gernon, there was another strange reason for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s lack of minutes.
Gernon claims in his new book The Transfer Market: The Inside Stories that a clause in the Ox’s contract meant every time he played 20 minutes for Arsenal, they owed Southampton £10,000.
It would certainly explain why Wenger more often than not used Oxlade-Chamberlain as a late substitute, rather than a starter every week.
“Following Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s move to Arsenal in 2011, Gunners fans became increasingly frustrated with the midfielder’s lack of playing time,” wrote Gernon.
“He was predominantly used as a substitute, often around the 71-minute mark.
“After his contract details emerged, it all became clear: Arsenal were obliged to pay Southampton £10,000 every time he played 20 minutes or more.”
How bizarre. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s clause must have been very expensive for Arsenal to maintain over his six-year stay, so it’s no wonder Wenger decided to let him go.
It’s all worked out for the best, though, with Oxlade-Chamberlain enjoying his time at Liverpool and Arsenal now thriving under Unai Emery.
Barcelona Announce New Financial Boost
Barcelona have announced they’re getting their finances on track.
Barca has issued an official statement communicating that it has received a stable triple B negative rating from the credit rating agency Fitch.
This is an important vote of confidence in terms of the club’s image. It is worth remembering that the club has already reached an agreement with the American investment fund Goldman Sachs, which has loaned the club 500 million euros.
The same fund already injected 90 million euros into the club during Josep Maria Bartomeu‘s presidency, with said loan conceived to aid the development of the Espai Barça project.
In a statement, the club announced:
“The sporting and financial project of the new FC Barcelona board of directors has received a vote of confidence in receiving a stable triple B negative credit rating from the credit rating agency Fitch.
“The credit rating agency gives a triple B rating to companies that are satisfactory at the time of rating, just as has happened to FC Barcelona after their assessment.
“With this BBB stable negative rating the Fitch agency values positively the Club’s financial project, which will have to undergo important readjustments to balance books.
“The confidence shown by Fitch allows the Club to look to the future with optimism and at a moment when the organisation is adjusting is financial viability plan as well as its strategic plan.”
Gerrard Frustrated With Liverpool Links: I Don’t Welcome It, I Don’t Add To It…
The Reds legend is consistently linked as a future replacement for Klopp, who is expected to leave Anfield when his contract expires in 2024.
But Gerrard is unhappy about the speculation as he is “very happy” in Glasgow.
“I don’t welcome it, I don’t add to it. All I do is focus on the job I have here and I’m very flattered and grateful for the position.
“I’m very happy here, I’ve said it on numerous occasions, it’s a huge club, I’m settled, I’m happy and I can continue to develop and keep trying to push this team forward.”
Tokyo Olympics: Nigeria Leads Countries With Highest Figure Of Banned Athletes
Ten athletes from Nigeria have been banned from participating in the Tokyo Olympics.
While the names of the affected athletes were not released, a statement from the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), revealed that a total of 18 athletes have been declared ineligible, with Nigeria being the most affected.
According to AIU, the 10 athletes from Nigeria failed the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15.
“Under the framework of Rule 15 governing National Federation Anti-Doping Obligations, which came into force in January 2019, National Federations are accountable for ensuring appropriate anti-doping measures are in place in their respective jurisdictions.
“Among other things, the Rule sets out minimum requirements for testing on the national teams of ‘Category A’ federations deemed to have the highest doping risk and considered as a threat to the overall integrity of the sport.
“The key requirement in Rule 15 is that an athlete from a ‘Category A’ country must undergo at least three no-notice out-of competition tests (urine and blood) conducted no less than 3 weeks apart in the 10 months leading up to a major event. Only then do they become eligible to represent their national team at the World Athletics Championships or the Olympic Games.
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