InterviewOxlade-Chamberlain on pre-season, 2022-23 aims, Salah renewal and more
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is determined to use pre-season as a springboard from which to launch a successful campaign.
The No.15 returned to the AXA Training Centre on Monday to begin preparations for 2022-23 and has outlined his desire to ensure he goes into next term in peak physical condition.
“Just be fit and available and be as ready as possible to compete and to play football and then when I’m playing or getting the opportunities to play, I know then that I set high expectations for myself,” Oxlade-Chamberlain told Liverpoolfc.com on Tuesday of his personal aims for next season.
“But at the start of things you’ve just got to make sure that you’re fit and available for selection and then you get the chance to put your targets into practice.
“We’ve got a tough pre-season to get through first so that’s first and then I know what qualities I have and the type of player I want to be: attacking and scoring or providing goals, driving the team forward.
“So they’re the things I look to do and whatever will happen will happen, so we’ll see.”
We also discussed the Reds’ collective objectives for next term, Mohamed Salah’s contract renewal and Oxlade-Chamberlain’s expectations of new signings Darwin Nunez and Fabio Carvalho.
Read the full interview below…
Alex, welcome back. It seemed to go quickly but how was your summer?
Yeah, really good. It does go quick always, but it was a nice break this year – I think four or five weeks we got, so that’s more than enough and yeah, ready to get going again.
Does it feel good to be back out there on the grass today after all the tests indoors on Monday?
Yeah, it always takes a few days to get your head around that you’re coming back in and that the work is starting again, but the minute you step into the building and you’re back in that environment, you sort of just change into work mode and the focus switches and then it becomes quite natural again. So yeah, that’s what it’s been like, and the first day there on the pitch with the balls and stuff it just gets you going and it’s always nice and exciting to get the lads back together and get the balls out.
Talk us through those fitness tests on Monday – they looked pretty tough at times?
It’s never easy! I think it’s more the anxiety of gearing up to that first day of testing and wanting to do well and then once you start running – we did it on the treadmill this year – we’ve all done running in the off-season and done preparation so you should be pretty prepared for it. It’s never easy, this year with the mask and all the wires and everything it was a bit uncomfortable [which] makes it a little bit more challenging. But it is what it is and you’ve just got to get through it and then the footballs come out and that’s when the hard work is more fun.
We had some big news last week when Mohamed Salah signed a new contract. The fans are delighted and as his teammates you must be too?
Yeah, he’s had us waiting for a while hasn’t he! I’m delighted for him, I know what he’s like as a guy. I’m sure for him to sign he is very happy being here and he’ll be very content with everything, so as a friend, I’m a good friend of Mo’s, I’m really happy that he’s comfortable and that he has got what he wants. And for Liverpool it is an amazing thing for us to have someone like Mo commit his future. We know how big a part of this team he has been for years now and I think everyone would know how big of a part of the team he would be for the next God knows how many years. He is one of them, he could decide how long he wants to go on for I think. So it’s really good news and obviously for us as players it is exciting to have someone like that stick with us and someone we’ve shared those memories with, hopefully being able to share more with.
There are a couple of new faces in the forward line too. Fabio Carvalho is settling in nicely and we’ve got Darwin Nunez to come, what qualities will they bring to the team?
I think obviously Darwin, we played against and saw him first hand and I think everything that we saw in those games… he reminded me a little bit of Luis [Diaz] when we played against him when he was at Porto. He’s that sort of a player that you know what you are going to get from – the athleticism, the speed, the strength, the power – and it was the same with him. I remember having to chase Luis back at Anfield at one point and he made me stick it into fifth gear and then try to find sixth to keep up with him! You sort of remember those things and when he walked through the door that was the first thing I remembered – don’t try to get in a race with him if I’m expecting to win! I think Darwin would be the same. I think Virgil said first hand and Ibou said as well how quick and strong he was. I think he had that confidence and swagger about him as well and I think as a striker, as a forward player, you sort of need to have that confidence to go and do good things and lead the team from up there.
Fab, he’s obviously a young player, very technically gifted. I saw a few little bits from him at Fulham last year and from guys I know there, they all speak very highly of him. So I’m sure we’re going to see him learn from a lot of the boys around here as well and settle in. Just any new faces like that, it breeds the competition for places and a bit of excitement, something new and fresh, and that makes everyone stick it into the next gear to sort of impress and make sure the standards stay high. So it’s a good thing, always.
What are your hopes for the new season after what was a relentless campaign last term?
I think get through pre-season to start off with! I think that’s always my aim at this point, to get through pre-season as fit and as strong as possible, and then get some minutes, get sharpness again and then I think as a team we all know what the target is: to win everything. I think last year that was almost a real possibility for us. We obviously had a really good season, came away with two trophies, but yeah, I think the expectation from within is that we are capable of competing in every single competition and all at the same time if needs be because the squad is big now. I’m sure that’s our aim and it’s high standards to live up to but that is the culture around here now, so that’ll be it for an individual and a team basis.