Rickie Lambert is on the verge of landing his big break, the moment his footballing career has been leading up to. The question is whether that step into stardom is his involvement with England at a World Cup in Brazil – not East Asia, Spain or South Africa, but bloody Brazil! – or the impending transfer to Liverpool.
It’s both. Let’s be honest. Almost as if one couldn’t live without the other.
There’s romance to this apparently soon-to-be-confirmed move to Liverpool for Lambert. The Southampton striker is extremely likeable and most are singing along to this fairytale in-the-making, like one of those catchy summer hits that gets played absolutely everywhere but you can’t bring yourself to hate.
But there’s also a lot of sense in this move from Brendan Rodgers. Liverpool aren’t struggling financially, but they’re also not the behemoths that Manchester City or Chelsea are. The club are middle of the road. A couple of big names will come in, but a handful of cheap, squad additions are equally as necessary. Necessary if Liverpool want to show progress next season, that is.
It would be wrong to say I’ve been calling for Liverpool to make a move like this for the past six months – I haven’t. I was just as surprised as most would have been when Lambert’s name blagged its way favourably into a sentence featuring Liverpool and the club’s transfer business.
Liverpool will play Champions League football next season – that’s been the emphasis. But they’re also playing in the Premier League, a point so obvious it’s been overlooked and just sounds banal. Lambert won’t do much against the best teams from the continent. No one would bet on Rodgers selecting Lambert ahead of Luis Suarez (provided he stays) for a trip to the Allianz Arena or the welcoming of Juventus to Anfield.
But Lambert has Premier League experience. He’s already been capped for England and scored on his debut. He’s a decent-to-good option to replace either Suarez or Sturridge when the fixtures start to pile up. Few would protest Lambert’s inclusion in lesser league games. Liverpool’s need isn’t in bringing in a world-class striker – not yet anyway – but they do need another body. For £4 million and a couple of add-ons, where’s the problem?
See, the catchiness of the romance has long been forgotten. Until it sneaks up on you while you’re midway through a drink at a bar.
Another goal-scoring forward is a must for Liverpool, but the ideal is a wide player, someone like Yevhen Konoplyanka, if the club can actually get that deal over the line. Then the rest of the budget can then be focused on the defence.
There can’t really be much protestation for signings of this nature. Most clubs do it, even those still nursing hangovers from last season’s triumphs. Andrea Pirlo was deemed knackered and beyond use by Milan. He then went to Juventus and won three Serie A titles. Not that I’m comparing Lambert to Pirlo, obviously, but to varying degrees, low-cost, low-risk signings serve their purpose.