There are very few better placed to analyse Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s shift from a wide man to a central midfielder than Frank Lampard.
The Ox has earned a spot in Liverpool’s three-man midfield with a string of impressive performances, including in the victory over Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-final.
The 24-year-old brings an added dynamism to Liverpool’s play with his direct runs from midfield and the combination of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita has supporters excited about what next season holds.
But Liverpool still have a job to do this season, of course, with the first leg of their semi-final tie against Roma to be played on Tuesday evening.
If Liverpool can win the Champions League it would do wonders for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s hopes of starting for England at the World Cup, but Frank Lampard has already seen enough from the former Arsenal man to believes Gareth Southgate must start him in Russia.
Lampard has given his thoughts on Oxlade-Chamberlain’s transition into centre midfield, detailing the responsibilities that the Ox has been forced to take on and give up in the role.
“If England are to get through to the knockout stages in Russia, what Oxlade-Chamberlain is doing now will help him cope with it,” Lampard said in his Evening Standard column.
Lampard on the Ox
“He has been brilliant in the last six weeks in particular. We all know the natural raw talent has always been there, but what has impressed me the most is that he has shown the discipline you need to play in midfield.
“There are a lot of different decisions to make when you move from being a wide player as Oxlade-Chamberlain has done to further inside. You can’t dribble and take as many touches like before.
“He has managed to learn that side of the game and become an integral part of the Liverpool team.
"There is no doubt he deserves a lot of credit. When you publicly say you’re looking to change positions, it is easy to attract doubters and cynics.
“Sometimes a move, a new manager, new team-mates can make you lift your game. He has more attacking options to find than he had at Arsenal.
"Also, he feels he has the full backing of his coach, which helps.”
That last part is spot on. Arsene Wenger never seemed willing to trust Oxlade-Chamberlain in a central position, whereas Klopp has shown great confidence in him.
And the Liverpool boss is reaping the benefits.