Before Liverpool turned Southampton into their personal feeder club, Arsenal liked nothing more than pilfering top talent from the south coast.
But while those at Anfield have placed greater emphasis on the acquisition of polished professionals, with close to £100 million spent on ready-made stars, the Gunners focused much of their attention on rough diamonds.
Arsene Wenger has been around for so long now that he has a reputation for many things – missing every contentious decision ever made, buying French players, wearing coats that are far too big for him, blindly ignoring any criticism and generally getting on the nerves of Jose Mourinho.
He is also famed for his production and nurturing of young talent, with Arsenal having benefited considerably from the emphasis placed on home-grown graduates down the years – with ‘home-grown’ a very loose term to describe individuals obtained from all corners of the world.
The Gunners are still reaping those rewards, with the likes of Hector Bellerin, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Iwobi and Francis Coquelin seeing plenty of first-team action – while Jack Wilshere could yet have a future at Emirates Stadium.
Wenger has also bought potential, with Rob Holding the latest acquisition to make his mark in north London.
There is, of course, the aforementioned purchases from Southampton to take into account as well, with Calum Chambers returning from a loan spell at Middlesbrough and Theo Walcott now an 11-year veteran with more than 100 goals for the club to his name.
Finally, there is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, with the versatile midfielder snapped up in 2011 for £15 million with only League One and domestic cup experience to his name.
After less than 12 months with the Gunners, a man being tipped for the very top was a surprise inclusion in England’s squad for Euro 2012, with a starting berth filled in a competition opener against France.
Too much, too soon?
Oxlade-Chamberlain is now 23 years of age – no longer a youngster finding his feet – but is yet to fully unlock the potential which once had Wenger and Roy Hodgson swooning.
In six years with Arsenal, he has made 196 appearances.
Only 129 of those have come in the Premier League, an average of just 21 a season, while he has never started more than 17 fixtures in any given top-flight campaign – with a personal best showing of 29 in 2016-17 seeing him named in Wenger’s first XI only 16 times.
There is, however, something about Oxlade-Chamberlain which makes him a useful and much sought-after asset – outside of his bubbly personality and ticking of an important home-grown box in domestic and European squad lists.
It is those qualities, and a contract due to expire in 2018, which have seen him draw admiring glances from Liverpool – with Southampton links of any kind seemingly okay for the Reds.
Oxlade-Chamberlain hinted in October 2016 that he may be willing to head for the Emirates exits, telling Sky Sports: “I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t crossed my mind that I need more game time. As a footballer, you want to play every game. Me being myself, I'm not happy when I'm not playing.
"There is going to come a time in my career, and I think I'm approaching that, when I do need to be getting more regular football. There comes a time in your career where you have to re-evaluate things and think, ‘Is that going to be here or elsewhere?’”
Looking at his stats from 2016-17 and across his time at Arsenal, the lively midfielder would add something to the ranks at Anfield – he attempts more dribbles, as a result of the direct running side of his game, boasts better duel and tackle success numbers than the likes of Adam Lallana, Georginio Wijnaldim and Emre Can, puts more balls into the box and fares admirably in the assist department.
The names mentioned above are, however, just some of those that would provide fierce competition for places on Merseyside, with the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane also operating in playmaking posts, while Jordan Henderson is the club captain and a deal believed to be imminent for Roma forward Mohamed Salah.
With so many options at his disposal, where would Jurgen Klopp find room for Oxlade-Chamberlain? Could he operate in his favoured central role? Unlikely. Is there any chance he would be used as a wide forward? Not much when looking at the alternatives.
It must also be noted that he is yet to post the kind of figures that would make him a perfect fit in Liverpool’s so-called ‘gegenpress’.
In 2016-17, Oxlade-Chamberlain covered an average of 11.1km a game, while making 62.3 sprints.
Among those to have already bought into Klopp’s high energy and high press approach, the likes of Lallana (12.8), Henderson (12.2), Wijnaldum (11.6), Can (11.4), Lucas Leiva (11.5) and Roberto Firmino (11.5) all better a potential new team-mate in terms of pitch coverage, while the more forward-thinking of those mentioned above top him in the energetic burst stakes.
Liverpool, it appears, really do not need Oxlade-Chamberlain and are perhaps better advised looking elsewhere – which may already be the case as they close on Salah – while mooted interest from Chelsea and Manchester City makes little sense either.
Arsenal, meanwhile, could do with persevering with a player they have placed so much faith in.
Wenger needs direct runners in his ranks, to complement the more enigmatic talents of Mesut Ozil and Co, while players able to slip seamlessly into a number of different positions are always useful.
The Gunners do, however, need to get themselves to the negotiating table if they are to end the rumours and prove their commitment – although there is a lengthy queue there at present and Oxlade-Chamberlain may once again find himself having to be patient as the club caters to the needs of others.