Throughout the course of last season, Rickie Lambert was a player who could simply do no wrong. Safe within the confines of St. Mary’s, the former Southampton striker looked deadly on most given occasions – and with an impressive total of 14 goals scored across 2013/14 – the recently capped England international had somewhat found himself a solid place among the Premier League’s most in-form players.
Since making the step-up to Anfield however, the 33-year-old striker just hasn’t really found his feet. For one reason or another, through lack of trust on Brendan Rodgers’ part, or an inability to perform from the player himself, Lambert’s dream move to Liverpool seemingly hasn’t had the fairytale narrative that many were hoping for upon his arrival at the club.
While the burly forward still has time to resurrect his career with the Reds, it would seem that his decision to reject Aston Villa’s advances in the January transfer window has left Tim Sherwood’s new club in an even worse state of affairs.
The player himself seemingly wasn’t too keen on the deal, yet because Villa are still in desperate need of a proven goalscorer to crop up and potentially save them from relegation this season, just how much of a missed opportunity was their failure to sign Liverpool’s Rickie Lambert?
Despite initially coming across as a traditional English centre-forward, who prefers aerial battles and the physical side of Premier League football, Brendan Rodgers’ currently out-of-favour striker is a lot more technically gifted than most would give him credit for. While playing for Southampton last season, Lambert proved that he could mix it up with the best of them – proving efficient at keeping the moves flowing as well as making a name for himself as somewhat of an expert in the set-piece department.
The former Saints man therefore has a lot more to his game than most would first expect, but while the aforementioned qualities certainly helped Rickie Lambert win his place in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad last summer, it was his goal scoring form that really did the talking.
Alongside the likes of Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez, the 33-year-old striker certainly proved strong in front of goal. His composure in the final third really was a joy to behold last season – and as for the amount of goals he scored for someone of his seemingly ‘old’ age in the top-flight – his strike-rate throughout 2013/14 certainly was impressive.
The England forward would therefore have most likely made a bigger impact at Anfield this season if he was a good few years younger. As he sadly isn’t in his 20’s anymore however, the step up to Liverpool will seemingly go down as a gamble that just didn’t pay off – yet that simply doesn’t mean that his time in the Premier League is done.
Aston Villa, with their floundering form in front of goal this season, simply can’t seem bang in the goals at a consistent enough level to thrive in the Premier League these days. They really could do with someone of Rickie Lambert’s capabilities with the likes of Christian Benteke, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann failing to produce the goods often enough this campaign. The current Liverpool bench-warmer may not be in the best goal-scoring form right now admittedly, but as he proved that he was certainly worthy of leading the line for Southampton just last season, there would have been no reason to suggest that he couldn’t do it for Villa throughout the rest of 2015.
As the chance to sign the no. 9 has seemingly moved on by now however, Tim Sherwood’s strugglers are simply going to have to face their remaining matches without an out-and-out goal-scorer on board to keep their heads above water. Yes – the reported £5million asking price does seem a bit steep for someone of Lambert’s age, but ultimately in the grand scheme of things, it really wouldn’t have been seen as an extortionate amount if it was enough to ensure Aston Villa’s safety.
Perhaps a loan move could have therefore been enough to see this deal make sense, but with the January transfer window long coming to a close, Aston Villa must play out the rest of the season in the hope that their lack of activity in signing a new striker doesn’t come back to haunt them.