Liverpool sanctioned a seismic transfer while the bulk of Jürgen Klopp’s squad were in Dubai but, as far as Alex Oxlade‑Chamberlain is concerned, reverberations from Philippe Coutinho’s £142m move to Barcelona will not damage the dressing room.
The “new boy” is not being cold or dismissive towards a team-mate of merely four months. It is, he says, strictly business, and the responsibility of every Liverpool player to compensate for the second biggest transfer fee of all time.
“I haven’t really even thought about Phil leaving,” insists Liverpool’s summer arrival from Arsenal, fresh from the mid-season break that followed the FA Cup defeat of Everton. “You pay it attention and you realise it happens but you can’t think: ‘What are we going to do now that Phil is not here?’. It can’t be that at all. It’s business as usual.
“When Phil didn’t play in some games we still played great football and we still have amazing players who can score goals – the likes of Mo [Salah], Sadio [Mané], Roberto [Firmino] and everyone else.
We have goals and creativity all over the team. Obviously Phil added to that, there is no doubt about that. The fact is he has gone now and we have to think about what we have got that is going to get the job done. I have every faith in the boys that we just move on now. I don’t think it should affect us at all.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain is effusive in his praise of the Brazil international; protective too, as witnessed by his defence of Coutinho when the then delicate subject of Barcelona cropped up on Sky after Liverpool’s win at Bournemouth last month.
But he is a professional who witnessed big departures and big arrivals at Arsenal, and knows the effect of Coutinho’s transfer on Liverpool will be determined by the response of those he left behind. Virgil van Dijk’s £75m arrival and match-winning debut in the derby is, he believes, evidence that the process is under way positively.
“I am the type of person who relishes the chance to stand up and perform under pressure, I have had to do that my whole career,” the 24-year-old says. “I was at a big club previously and being at a big one now, you know you are always going to have to perform under pressure.
“I knew Phil was a world-class talent before I joined. Since I arrived I saw what an influential part he was of the side. In the short history he was here, Phil was a big character around the place, a fan favourite and rightly so.
He was an amazing player who did great things for Liverpool. You want as many good players as possible in your team but that is football, that’s the business – people come, people go. Clubs will lose great players and great players will come in.