Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had to battle with expectations - Jurgen Klopp
LIVERPOOL -- Jurgen Klopp says there may have been unfair expectations placed on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain when he first arrived at Arsenal as a youngster.
After making two substitute appearances against Manchester City and Burnley, Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to make his first start as a Liverpool player in Tuesday night's Carabao Cup third-round tie at Leicester City.
The 24-year-old moved to Liverpool this summer in a £40 million transfer from Arsenal and said a switch to Anfield was "right for the next stage in my ongoing development."
Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Arsenal as a 17-year-old from Southampton in 2011 for a fee of £15m, which Klopp feels may have placed unnecessary pressure on a young player.
"When Alex was probably 18 or 19, people thought he could be 'the' man -- how a lot of people think a lot of the time pretty early," Klopp told a news conference.
"How I say: you immediately put a rucksack on their back. That makes development not easier, so hide them as long as makes sense. That's the plan.
"But he's now in the perfect age and is still able to make big steps. I thought in the last game, he played like a Liverpool player -- highest intensity, was involved, was not fixed in a position. I saw already a lot of things.
"At the end, he didn't hit a goal so maybe people will say that's a proper Liverpool player -- doing everything right and then at the end he doesn't score.
"I'm really happy to have him here. I hope he's also happy to be here."
Although Oxlade-Chamberlain cited a lack of career development as a reason for his Arsenal departure, Klopp says the England international's versatility already makes him a player of the "highest quality."
Despite it being reported that Oxlade-Chamberlain moved to Liverpool for greater opportunities in his preferred central midfield role, Klopp has already suggested that he can play in up to four positions in the Reds' current 4-3-3 setup.
"It's just because we play different to Arsenal. That doesn't mean better or worse, it just means different. At least being involved in a different football [style] is already development because it helps you react in different moments, so that's not always doing the same.
"Arsenal changed a lot of since Alex is there," Klopp said. "I'm sure they didn't always play with three in the back, wing-backs and stuff like this. I played against Arsenal when Alex was centre-mid, I played against Arsenal when he was on the wing, I played Arsenal when he was wing-back.
"He played different positions and that all is highest quality. If you can play in the Premier League in different positions, that says a lot of you.
"It's a judgement from outside that you don't develop, but playing different positions is development."
The Liverpool manager added: "But a new start is very often kind of a relief.
"You are in a situation in your old club -- I don't say this for Alex especially, just in general it is like this -- you are in a specific position and accept it and then at some point it's difficult to make the next step.
"It's how it is. So I thought it made complete sense for Alex to change the club and especially for him to come here.
"So far I can't see that [that he struggles to believe in himself]. He has settled in perfectly, but he knew all the England players and a few others. He's a really nice lad so it's easy for him to settle in the team, he takes the situation like it is.
"He knows he played all the games for Arsenal from the beginning and now he comes here and is sitting on the bench and it looks like, 'Oh, it was not the best decision,' but it's about the long term. We can already use him and that's good, but we also want to prepare him -- that's all. It's all good."
Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.