The Ox may seek greener pastures

LONDON • Alex "The Ox" Oxlade-Chamberlain is preparing to wait out his contract and leave Arsenal on a free transfer next summer, after rejecting a take-it-or-leave-it offer from the north London club.

The England international was offered a significant wage increase to extend his deal at the Emirates but declined - because his priority is playing time, rather than improving his terms.

Liverpool were rebuffed when they made a direct approach to Arsenal to discuss his availability earlier this week, leaving all parties at an impasse.

Oxlade-Chamberlain is attracted by the idea of playing for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, given Klopp's record with developing the attacking gifts of players such as Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane.

At 23, he is most eager to nail down a regular role in a top team and start games consistently - something that has not quite happened at Arsenal, despite six seasons there.

Though Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said Oxlade-Chamberlain figures prominently in his plans, experience has made the player cautious regarding promises about a starting role.

He is determined to be in England's squad for next summer's World Cup, but is prepared to run down his contract - which expires next year - even if that means being jettisoned from Arsenal's team.

Arsenal are believed to value Oxlade-Chamberlain at £25 million (S$44 million), despite one year left on his deal.

Since joining from Southampton for an initial £12 million in 2011, Oxlade-Chamberlain has scored 20 times in 194 games for the Gunners, winning 27 England caps.

Arsenal are close to agreement with Lyon over Alexandre Lacazette after indicating they are willing to break their club record of £42.4 million to sign the prolific French striker.

The Gunners are also embroiled in sagas with Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez over contract extensions.

Bayern Munich's interest in Sanchez has now receded, leaving Manchester City likeliest to sign the Chilean forward should he leave.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2017, with the headline 'The Ox may seek greener pastures'. Print Edition | Subscribe