After solid year speculation about his return and what it might mean for Jurgen Klopp's options, the scorching scorching and romanticism of how Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be "like a new signature" for Liverpool has surpassed the tires.
Then, after nearly 15 months without a match, it was a huge relief to see him back in XI for Saturday's win over Southampton.
Having him at his disposal is a significant boost for Klopp and the team, but the progress made by his rematch against Roma in the Champions League semifinal is enormous, inadvertently causing some uncertainty as to where, or if, he would crash back into.
On the sidelines, he watched his team continue to fall in the final. He then encouraged them to step up their midfield options immensely in the transfer market and move away from the high octane style he saw progressing as a midfielder.
Replacing his former midfielders Jordan Henderson and Iniini Vinalaldum, formerly considered substitutes, play a key role as they have gone all the way over the next 12 months, redeeming their previous shortcomings to win the Champions League. and get into the Premier League whip.
The returning Liverpool team is one that is more mature, more successful and has evolved more stylishly than the last one stepped on.
So when he turned up on Tuesday as an auxiliary winger for the Chelsea Super Cup clash, there was a real reason for fear that he would no longer be trusted as a central midfielder.
But those worries lasted only a few days, as he joined Vihnaldum and James Miller in the midfield for a trip to Southampton.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain starts a competitive match for Liverpool for the first time after suffering an injury against Roma in the Champions League.
April 2018 – August 2019: the wait is over. pic.twitter.com/Yp1r0A6ySD
– Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 14, 2019
With Millner at the forefront of the three and Vinaldum playing the "box-to-box" role, he has done his part over the last 12 months, seeing Oxlade-Chamberlain intriguing, surprising and encouraging in equal measure.
Although every Liverpool player should play his role in the high press and offer an attacking threat when on his own, the new Clopper system requires his midfielders to offer balance while his wide forwards sit in the inner channels, and a full-back cascade in opposition-created space, subsequently compacting the back line.
This was a conscious tactical change and one that was seen as a surplus to the advanced, gung-ho role in which the wolves grew up.
Against Southampton, however, the transition from one system to another was easy for the former Arsenal man. Its performance was tailored to the needs of the updated tactical system, as it sat relatively wide to the right, allowing Salah to strip inside while covering the space occupied by Alexander-Arnold's frequent drive down the wing – especially noticeable given how showcasing the young man the previous week was against Norwich.
Henderson found himself at Oxlade-Chamberlain, who had a much better game than midfield. It looks much more comfortable in midfield.
– Neil onesons (@neiljonesgoal) August 17, 2019
Most of Liverpool's attacks were accidentally dropped on the opposite wing, with Sadio Manne scoring one goal and creating the other, but this was eased by a balance on the right side, allowing Milner and Vinaldum to overrun and overtake. the inexperienced duo of Jan Valery and Jan Bednarek.
Some expected the Wolves to be the missing pieces in an offensive sense, using his pace and vision to unlock defenses in a way that none of the other midfielders in Liverpool's books can – Nabi Keita might be on the sidelines.
But while this was a more cautious performance than normal, as he has yet to find a balance between offering adequate defensive cover and using his attacking attributes to their full effect, there were various positives to his attacking play.
Oxlade-Chamberlain: "On a personal level it is great to go back there and contribute to a good solid performance. You miss it. I had awful moments on the road, but I have to remind myself that it's a long journey back to where I want to be." . pic.twitter.com/Uf9vLqualT
– Everything is Liverpool (@AnyothingLFC_) August 17, 2019
In a game that was a long way from one-sided and centered around a packed midfield fight, Oaks was never ruled out, finishing 89.5% – better than any Liverpool player in the early stages. stages of the season so far.
The competition for the midfield of the "reds" is enormous, with Vialdamum, Miller, Henderson, Kita and Fabinho likely looking for a real start. With this in mind, Oxlade-Chamberlain may not be a complete first choice, and there is still much to prove.
If he can avoid another horror injury and build on the consistent performance he set on Saturday, however – perhaps with a little more than his trademark attack on the faithful thrown to good measure – then he will offer an intelligent, tactically solid an option that brings out the best in the players around him.
And if that is the role he is to play for the upcoming season, then it may not be what he expected when he signed two seasons ago, but it would be worth every penny of that £ 35m.