Seldom do they return at the same or a higher level than when they left, but perhaps after having sold one player as a 17-year-old, he could return as the man to propel Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team up the table.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Arsenal back in 2011 and moved again to Liverpool six years later in a deal worth £35m. He has recently been linked with a return to the south coast as he looks to revitalise a career which has been ravaged by injuries.
Journalist Pete O’Rourke recently claimed: “His time at Anfield has been interrupted by injuries at key points when it looked like he was establishing himself in Jurgen Klopp’s side. But he’s still a top player.
“Maybe teams like Southampton, his old club, might be interested in him, and I’m sure there might even be interest from abroad as well because he’s still got a good CV.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain returning at the age of 28 as he entering his prime years could be perfect not only for the club, but for one academy graduate who stuck around in James Ward-Prowse.
Available for a reported £10m fee, it seems a no-brainer for the Saints to swoop for the Liverpool midfielder.
Although Oxlade-Chamberlain has struggled for game-time in recent years, he has still managed to impress for the Reds. He featured six times last season in the Champions League and averaged a 7.07 SofaScore rating.
Jurgen Klopp even claimed that last season he was witnessing the best version of the midfielder, saying: “It’s pretty much the best Oxlade since I was here. I know he’s had spectacular moments, but it’s a completely new quality. Like calming the game down, being able to know when to sprint with the ball, or shoot and the stuff like that.”
To place that attacking prowess alongside the stability of Ward-Prowse, who recorded an average SofaScore rating of 7.27 last season, could be an intelligent tactical decision by Hasenhuttl.
He also ranked in the 90th percentile for shot-creating actions, and when combined with Oxlade-Chamberlain – who ranks in the 96th percentile for progressive passes received and the 97th percentile for touches in the attacking penalty area – the stats suggest that they could create a potent partnership.
Southampton should swoop for the Liverpool midfielder, who could be the perfect player to allow them to take the next step.
It could also allow Ward-Prowse to further improve his output, as he would have another tricky attack-minded player at whom to aim his pinpoint passes.