- Position: Attacking-midfield;
- Born: St. Albans, England, May 1988 (age 26);
- Club: Southampton (2000-present);
- Former: Bournemouth – loan (2007);
- International: England (4 caps)
- 2013-14 Premier League Statistics: 37(1) games, 9 goals, 6 assists;
- Estimated Value: £25m
Adam Lallana has arguably emerged as Liverpool’s transfer priority during recent weeks – that the Reds, who’s attacking unit was insatiable much of last season, are pursuing so keenly is testament to the Southampton midfielder’s rise to now being recognised as one of the league’s finest players in his position. Just three years ago, Lallana’s peers voted him into the League One ‘Team of the Season’ – a year later he was selected in the PFA’s Championship side and his Premier League peers have voted him into the 2013-14 group, ‘alongside’ Yaya Toure, Eden Hazard, and Steven Gerrard. His cultured and progressive style has shone particularly brightly on the big stage over the last year, and Roy Hodgson’s backing means that his rise takes him all the way to Brazil, where he is expected to claim a starting position in England’s World Cup team. Liverpool reportedly bid £20m during mid-May but, with a transfer clause promising Bournemouth (where Lallana spent his youth) a windfall, were some way off the Saints‘ valuation – the Reds have already all but confirmed the signing of team-mate Rickie Lambert, and reports suggest that a take-it-or-leave-it final offer of £25m was made on Friday evening.
During his early years, Adam Lallana was nurtured at Bournemouth’s Centre of Excellence but the then-Division Two side were helpless when Premier League Southampton poached him as a twelve year-old in 2000. The Cherries have since benefitted from a number of conditional compensation payments but the most notable windfall, 25% of Southampton’s sale price, may be just around the corner for the south-coast side who have been progressing impressively under Eddie Howe. Lallana developed alongside some notable names at Southampton and appeared in the 2005-06 FA Youth Cup Final loss to Ipswich Town – in the same squad were Leon Best, Nathan Dyer, Theo Walcott, and Gareth Bale. A midfielder of creativity and guile, Lallana was introduced to the first time via a League Cup debut against Yeovil Town in August 2006 – he was briefly loaned back to Bournemouth in 2007. Having previously made only a handful of appearances, Lallana became a fundamental part of the midfield under Dutch managers Jan Poortvliet and Mark Wotte during the 2008-09 season – the season would be memorable for all the wrong reasons, however, as Southampton faced financial ruin and were relegated to the third tier for the first time in thirty-one years.
The Saints, already hampered by a 10 point deduction, started their League One campaign terribly – taking just 5 points from their opening seven matches and languishing in the relegation zone until late-November. Nevertheless, Lallana would flourish under newly-appointed Alan Pardew – he scored fifteeen league goals as Southampton fell just short of a Playoff position. The young midfielder was instrumental in Southampton’s promotion campaign in 2010-11 and was named in the PFA League One team of the season, scoring eight goals as the south-coast side returned to the Championship. Southampton’s resurgence continued the following season as, under new boss Nigel Adkins, they claimed another successive 2nd place finish and secured a long-awaited return to the Premier League. Lallana was again recognised by his PFA peers, alongside teammates Kelvin Davis and twenty-seven goal Rickie Lambert, and, despite long-time speculation surrounding interest from other club’s the attacking-midfielders decision to earn his stripes at St. Mary’s appeared vindicated.
Whilst Lambert has proven to adapt well at each level he has progressed through, Adam Lallana’s sustained performances in the Southampton midfield during spells in League One, the Championship, and subsequently the Premier League are a real mark of class for one in his early-twenties. Southampton initially struggled to find their feet in the top-flight but Adkins steadied them around 2012’s festive season and his successor, Mauricio Pochettino, fashioned an attractive brand of football out of the talented squad as his disposal in order to secure comfortable survival. This new Saints style suited Lallana and his teammates perfectly and he thrived alongside the talents of Luke Shaw, Morgan Scheiderlin, James Ward-Prowse, Jay Rodriguez, and Lambert during 2013-14. Southampton’s refreshing approach under Pochettino saw them dominate possession and offer up some delicious free-flowing football on their way to an eleven-year best 8th place. Lallana yet-again found himself voted into the PFA Team of the Season and, having made his international debut to great acclaim back in November, was named in England’s World Cup squad alongside Southampton teammates Shaw and Lambert. His creativity and comfort in the international side has stood out and many expect that he will head a midfield trio featuring potential-clubmates Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson in the summer – Jack Wilshire may have endured injury-woes during recent seasons but, even so, it is impressive that a midfielder until-recently plying his trade in League One can keep one recently-dubbed the ‘new Paul Gascoigne’ benched.
Liverpool have all too often found themselves in search of the ‘final pieces’ during recent decades – defensive, offensive, and midfield additions in the mid-90s, 2002, and 2009, respectively, could have seen the Reds push on and secure long-awaited titles but the right players, and those titles, have proved elusive. In many ways, the uncharacteristically aggressive pursuit of Adam Lallana appears unusual – the attacking dimension of Brendan Rodgers’ side was verging upon perfect at times during 2013-14 and it is the rearguard that most consider as requiring urgent attention, in addition to depth issues in other areas. Nevertheless, the desire for an agreement with Southampton, with Lallana’s eagerness for an Anfield move reportedly a formality, is perhaps indicative of Liverpool’s imperative not to repeat the mistakes of years gone by. Even during promising years under Rafa Benitez, the Club often found themselves replacing departing first-teamers or upgrading personnel and prompting a sale – this yielding differing impacts upon the team, but rarely benefiting the squad and its depth. Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling both announced themselves emphatically as genuine options for the Reds during the last eighteen months and the hunger to add Lallana to the attacking roster is an implicit statement of intent. His addition would not be one of imperative necessity but one of brazen desire and, by moving early in an attempt to reach a deal, Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers and the Fenway Sports Group are far-distancing themselves from the negotiating naivity of old and are declaring themselves ready to feed at the top-table once again.
Tony Barrett reported, on Sunday evening, that Liverpool and Southampton remain at stalemate over the fee since the Reds submitted their ‘final offer’ of £25m. The deal is complicated by Bournemouth’s claim to 25% of Southampton’s sale price – having already lost Chairman Nicola Cortese, Manager Pochettino, and top-scorer Lambert during the last six months, the Club fear an exodus of their top talent. As well as the £4m+ from Lambert’s sale, a deal for Lallana at £25m would provide the Saints with an additional £18.75m to reinvest – their desire to hold out for £30m is understandable when this figure jumps to £22.5. It is reported that boyhood-Everton supporter Lallana is hoping for the move to Anfield but he has supposedly not yet made this clear to his Club via means of transfer request – between his reported desire, Liverpool’s insistence that they have made their final offer, and the potential for injury at the World Cup (tempered by the potential for a successful tournament prompting a bidding war), Southampton’s resilience is set to be tested just as much as Liverpool’s desire.
Ben Lane, of Saints’ blog www.gomarchingin.co.uk, offered the following thoughts on Adam Lallana and Liverpool’s bid, as well as the departures of Mauricio Pochettino and Rickie Lambert, and the rumours surrounding Dejan Lovren:
I have a strange sense of deja vu…There is no denying that Lallana was our stand-out player last term and because of this I think it is right that Saints are sticking to their “no less than £30m” price tag, especially considering the premium, even in 2014, that young attacking English talent can command. I was surprised by comments on the SaintsFC and LFC Twitter hashtags regarding our stance; didn’t Liverpool put up a tough façade when Arsenal came calling about Suarez? People may argue that that would have been a sideways move for Suarez whereas the move for Lallana would be a step-up. Of course it would be a step-up, but don’t we have just as much right as top 4 side to dictate the price of players and by default protect our best talent from being poached for what equates in the Premier League to nominal fees? From my point of view, if Lallana does leave I would hope Saints take Liverpool to the cleaners and if this means Liverpool have to go look elsewhere and leave him on the south coast that is just fine by me. The 25% sell-on fee we would pay to Bournemouth means we need to hold out to £30m minimum to get anywhere close to a fair price.
I also think Liverpool have been a bit cheeky with the timing of these bids but I don’t blame them for wanting to get Lambert and now Lallana before a World Cup; if Lallana has a blinder we can stick another £5-10m on no questions asked. Then again, this tactic could bite us on the arse if he does his cruciate. I was an admirer of Liverpool’s style of play throughout last season and there is no doubt Lallana would slot nicely into your team. I know many of your readers will scoff at this remark, but I think Lallana is better than Sterling; Sterling is a bit too ‘head down, gung-ho’ for me whereas Lallana will take a look, weigh-up the situation and make a decisive pass rather than rely on blistering pace.
Lallana has reportedly tonight (Monday) told Saints he wants to leave, but this seems to be ‘paper-talk’ because I can’t imagine a player, focussing on the World Cup, staying in Miami with the rest of the England squad ringing up St.Mary’s laying the law down. If it is true and Lallana is whining and moaning (his form with Clattenburg would suggest he can be a bit sensitive) he needs to get out sharpish – which in turn will be good for Liverpool as it could force our hand. But then again, we’re bank-rolled by Swiss Billionaires and certainly do not need the money.
The way this summer is working out I fully expect Tottenham away and Liverpool home to come out of the fixture computer.
Originally published at: http://www.theredmentv.com/blog/p/15312
© Jack Harte, The Redmen TV, 2014