Brendan Rodgers’ decision to sign Adam Lallana for £25m in 2014 appeared logical for Liverpool at the time.
The creative midfielder was a unique prospect with proven experience in the Premier League while he represented a player to contribute towards the homegrown quota.
But his career on Merseyside hasn’t unfolded as many would have hoped. Injuries have restricted him to 171 appearances in more than five years with the club, but his return of 22 goals and 22 assists proves that he possesses genuine prowess in the final third.
His current contract, however, is due to expire in June 2020 and a decision will need to be made over his future in the coming months.
Jurgen Klopp handed him a rare opportunity to impress from the outset against Wolves prior to the turn of the year and he repaid his manager’s faith by providing the assist for the only goal of the game.
The shoulder he played into the path of Sadio Mane was exactly the type of delicate touch which we have come to expect from him, but it will take more than one moment of brilliance to earn a new deal at Anfield.
The reality is that he is now 31 years old and into the twilight of his career. Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri – two players who differ stylistically from Lallana but also aim to make a decisive impact in the final third – are both struggling to break into the first team while the impressive Marko Grujic is set to return from his loan spell with Hertha Berlin at the end of the season.
No clues: Can you name the season these iconic Liverpool images belong to?
Present circumstances don’t bode well for Lallana even if his recent display against Wolves did offer encouragement. The attacking midfielder finished the game with an impressive five dribbles, one assist and one key pass, but he was equally as impressive from a defensive perspective, making four tackles, two interceptions and two fouls, per Whoscored.
It was no surprise that his display prompted fresh calls on social media for the club to offer him a new deal, but it would be a shock if the club decided to extend his stay on Merseyside.
After all, Lallana has missed 67 fixtures through injury since he signed for the Reds and Klopp has a multitude of quality options at his disposal in central midfield. The 52-year-old has even suggested that his ability to stay fit this season will determine the final decision on his future, Sky Sports (via Mirror).
“He is a very important player in this moment. What will happen in the future, we will see. But for him, wherever it is – here or somewhere else – the only important thing is that he can show he is 100 per cent fit.”
Whether Grujic will be welcomed back into the senior fold remains to be seen but his youth gives him a definite advantage over Lallana even if their styles notably differ.
Manchester City’s drift into obscurity in the title race and Tottenham’s decline this season both allude to the importance of refreshing the personnel within the squad every two or three years, and that realisation may just seal Lallana’s fate even if he can build on his impressive Wolves showing in the coming weeks.
If a Premier League club can snap him up and keep him fit he may just be one of the bargains of the 2020/21 season.
The beginning of a new year, however, offers foreign clubs the chance to swoop in before his contract reaches its expiry in the summer.
A challenge away from England may just be the best possible move for all parties concerned.
In other Liverpool news, fans on Twitter have called for the club to re-sign a former player…