Klopp has confirmed that Oxlade-Chamberlain is ahead of schedule in his return from injury following a knee ligament injury that threatened to derail all chances of the England international featuring during the 2018/19 campaign is, in ever way, the perfect gift anyone could’ve asked for going into the New Year.
Chamberlain 25-year, is in line for a return in late February or early March just in time for the run in.
A performance to forget against Leicester from Chamberlain in the Carabao Cup last season merely added ammunition to the argument that he wasn’t worth the £40million outlay while a wretched September for the club, marked with just one win in all competitions, compounded a frustrating initiation for the No.21.
But Klopp’s patient approach provided time for Chamberlain to acclimatise to his new surroundings, with a series of substitute performances offering glimpses into his potential. A short twenty-minute cameo at Old Trafford on the wing visibly added an extra dimension to the attack while highlighting his exuberant style.
A first league start against West Ham marked the start of his journey, progressing from an inconsistent utility man who failed to make direct contributions in the final third to a complete midfielder destined to thrive in Klopp’s system.
The 4-3 win over Manchester City; a performance of collective brilliance embodied by Chamberlain’s incessant running and surging forward runs. Drawing first blood, he endeared himself to fans instantly, grabbing his moment with both fists in a showcase of true individual class.
A repeat of the same fixture in the Champions League quarter-final would see Chamberlain raise his level again. Picking up the ball from deep, it took just three touches for him to send a rip-roaring strike hammering into the back of the net from 25 yards.
A season built on twenty-minute blitzes, the 25-year-old acted as conductor to Klopp’s ceaseless, organised chaos. Here he was, thriving in a central-midfield role with the impetus to start the press and adventurism to maraud into the final third, treasuring every moment in the process.
Sustaining a harrowing knee ligament injury in the Champions League semi-final, Chamberlain’s dynamism has been a huge miss for Liverpool this season, making the prospect of his impending return all the more exciting.
Where Klopp’s previous claims about players returning from injury being ‘like a new signing’ have been met with groans, it offers the perfect summation about Chamberlain’s homecoming.
This side has been a reckoning force without him, I can only imagine what Liverpool can be on his return.