Liverpool are taking a gamble with their latest signing, with Adam Lallana set to be confirmed soon as the club’s £25 million purchase from Southampton.
While it’s true that there are few transfers that don’t carry an element of risk, it looks to be that Liverpool are investing in a player – and overpaying – when there are better options on the market.
Brendan Rodgers has seemingly become an expert at capitalising on available players and making the most of what the market has offered up. In Daniel Sturridge, the Liverpool boss landed an English 20-plus goal scorer for £15 million. The advantage was that Chelsea failed to see the upside in the England international and let him go for a relatively knockdown fee. Coutinho’s transfer to Anfield was facilitated by the Brazilian’s struggles to convince at Inter Milan. His best showing since arriving in Europe was a six-month loan spell at Espanyol, and Inter, like Chelsea, were prepared to sell on the cheap.
Liverpool aren’t in a position now where they need to continue to follow than principle, waiting for good opportunities to present themselves. But it doesn’t require reckless spend just yet.
Adam Lallana is a 26-year-old with only two seasons of top flight experience. He’s adapted well to the Premier League, but there are no guarantees that he’s a Champions League-calibre player. At £25 million, and for a team who aren’t backed by limitless funds, it’s a gamble not worth taking.
The World Cup in Brazil has presented many good opportunities for Liverpool. The team need additions all over the pitch. In Lallana’s case, addressing a midfield role, either centrally or on the wing, the tournament in Brazil has shown players who could have been of better value.
Eduardo Vargas is the first player that springs to mind. The Chilean forward has had a good tournament, though it should be noted that his form has often been better for his national team than his club sides. Last season he went on loan to Valencia from parent club Napoli and only started 13 games, scoring just three in the league.
But Vargas clearly has talent. He has the technical side of his game nailed down. It’s simply a case of getting him to perform consistently. Jorge Sampaoli has managed that at international level.
We’ve seen from this World Cup that Chile are an industrious side, not too dissimilar from what Brendan Rodgers can create at Anfield with further work. Vargas is 24, evidently dispensable by his current club and should come at far fairer price than Lallana, who, prior to the build up to this World Cup, has no experience with the England national team.
Another option is Algeria’s Sofiane Feghouli, who has been incredibly important to Valencia over the past few seasons. The 24-year-old is undoubtedly Algeria’s most recognisable player, as well as their most valuable. He’s another industrious forward who regularly plays on the right side of attack for his club. Feghouli was good for seven goals and eight assists in all competitions last season compared to Lallana’s nine and six.
The English premium attached to Lallana makes it difficult to justify his transfer. He may very well replicate his good form at Southampton for Liverpool, but that doesn’t mean he was the best option available to the club.
There is arguably too much importance placed on the fee of Lallana’s move. When you think of Fernando Torres or Andy Carroll, you’re immediately drawn to those ludicrous fees generated from their respective moves in January 2011. But this is the modern game and inflated prices are the norm.
The primary concern here is value for money: are Liverpool about to receive the very best they could have gotten with the fee they’re about to part with? It’s a struggle to be convinced.
But there is an acknowledgement for Rodgers, who has done an incredible job of transforming the fortunes of the club and convincing others to buy into his ideals. He may very well round Lallana out into the perfect midfield signing.
We’ll have to see how this one pans out. But for their money, Liverpool could have done more than an overpriced 26-year-old with limited experience.