You wouldn’t think, by looking at their results this season, that Liverpool are anyway in need of extra attacking firepower to add to their 101 Premier League goals this season. Well Brendan Rodgers thinks otherwise.
Adam Lallana has emerged as transfer target number one in what promises to be a crucial summer for Liverpool. There are suggestions that Rodgers is looking to get a deal completed before the England side jet off to complete their World Cup preparation.
Having worked his way up from League One to the Premiership in just two years, Lallana has taken like a duck to water to top level English football. A solid 2012-13 campaign was blown out of the water this year as he was nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award, whilst also gaining a place in the PFA Team of the Year.
Under Mauricio Pochettino, Southampton have grown rapidly into a Premier League force to be reckoned, with Lallana pulling the strings. His nine goals and five assists were a major contributor to the Saints’ eighth-place finish this season.
For all the goals and glory that Liverpool have provided their awed spectators, there is a worrying lack of depth to the squad. The major attacking quartet – Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho – remained largely free of major injury. Whilst they performed spectacularly throughout the vast majority of the 2013-14 season, they had no burden of European football. If the same squad were to continue into the next, then Rodgers will be having to rely on unproven and, so far, underwhelming prospects of Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto, and Fabio Borini.
In gaining the signature of Lallana, Rodgers would add quality whilst increasing the depth of the squad. And this isn’t just any old quality. This is individual, match-winning quality in his own right.
Lallana is as comfortable with his two feet as you will see a current English footballer. This allows him to play in an advanced role anywhere on the field, making him unpredictable and difficult to defend against. He can spot and execute a tricky pass, glide past defenders with consummate ease, and finish calmly in front of goal – each of the last two aspects are demonstrated perfectly by his goal against Hull this season earlier this season. As attacking players go in the Premier League, there are few who could currently claim to touch the all-round capabilities of Lallana.
When you look at Liverpool’s current attacking quartet, each of them are almost equally adept at drifting in and out of spaces, occupying multiple defenders, and drawing fouls through their dangerous running. Whilst Rodgers will be looking to improve defensively this season, he won’t wish to compromise the attacking style. Lallana’s willingness to run at defenders – successfully completing 70 take-ons in the league – and draw fouls – fouled 76 times – will allow him to fit like a hand to a glove if he is to join Liverpool this summer.
One thing which could quite easily go unrecognised in Adam Lallana is his fantastic temperament and attitude. He is an intelligent and thoughtful guy – from seeing him interviewed – and he is focused. Southampton have a history of not only developing their youngsters into outstanding footballers, but also into good men. The likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are testament to this. Lallana’s attitude would fit in nicely with the team and collective ethic that Rodgers has instilled within the current Liverpool side.
If there is an agreeable fee, then it is likely that Liverpool will face much competition to win Lallana’s signature this summer. If Lallana had been at a bigger club, or with the Saints in the Premier League for a longer period of time, I have no doubt that there would be some big foreign clubs sniffing around Southampton. Luckily for all, there probably won’t be.
What’s more with Lallana, his move wouldn’t constitute much of a risk. In terms of the fee, OK it may be. But that fact that Lallana is proven in the top division means that there would be no period of adaptation. He would fit right into the Liverpool side with little trouble. If Rodgers can convince Southampton to part company with him, the move really is a no-brainer.