Brendan Rodgers has shown a preference for mobile midfield technicians since taking over at Liverpool. The Reds manager summed up his ideal targets in an interview with talkSPORT earlier on Friday: “For me, it is about players with the real technical capacity to play, players with personality and players that are hungry. Those will be the three key ingredients of the players coming in”. Lallana fits that bill. The 26-year-old is the poster boy for Southampton’s attacking, intricate football which has been a real positive in the Premier League campaign. The Reds midfielder appears to be a very Rodgers-type player; slight in build, good on either foot, excellent movement and a winning mentality. Lallana would slot effortlessly into Rodgers’s masterplan for Liverpool.
Despite being a relatively youthful 26, the England international has shed loads of experience. Lallana has been a regular fixture in the Southampton starting line-up since breaking through in 2006 – aged 18. Former Southampton manager Nigel Adkins appointed Lallana as captain upon their promotion to the Premier League and it has proven a masterstroke. Rodgers will want leaders throughout his team. Steven Gerrard, Daniel Agger, Henderson and Suarez have all worn the captain’s armband at club or country level at some point in their careers. Lallana will be another voice in the dressing room. And with two Premier League seasons under his belt, he won’t need time to settle, which was a problem with previous Liverpool buys such as Alberto Aquilani.
Liverpool have been a tad over-reliant on Daniel Sturridge and Suarez this season. The PFA player of the year has scored 31 Premier League goals, whilst the second half of SAS has found the net a respectable 20 times. Gerrard has offered a threat from penalties, largely contributing towards his 13 strikes. After that trio, Raheem Sterling is the standout midfield goal-scorer, with nine efforts in his real breakthrough season. Rodgers will want to see an improvement from Joe Allen, Philippe Coutinho and Henderson. Lallana would certainly bring goals to the table. The Southampton skipper bagged nine top-flight strikes this term as well as creating six goals for team-mates. Lallana’s cutting edge behind Sterling and Suarez, and alongside Coutinho and Sterling, would make Liverpool an even more potent outfit – imagine!
Liverpool like to exude the image of a club with one eye on the future. The Reds signed Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Henderson in the summer of 2011 with the hope that the English trio would develop into key Liverpool players – and crucially home-grown talents for the Champions League. Carroll and Downing have the chance to fire Liverpool to the Premier League on Sunday – but in the shirt of West Ham United. It didn’t work out for the duo at Anfield, and although Henderson is starting to fulfil his talent, it took more than 18 months. Lallana fits the bill in terms of age and nationality. The Saints skipper turned 26 on Saturday, and there is a lot more to come from Lallana, especially under the tutelage of Rodgers. Henderson and Sterling are shining endorsements of the manager’s coaching ability. With Liverpool ending a five-year absence from the Champions League courtesy of this season’s league performance, Lallana would count as a home-grown player, too, freeing up space for foreign names in Rodgers’s European squad. Win, win.
Gerrard has been forced to accept that the days of his swashbuckling, box-to-box midfield performances are over – even if he attempted to revive that play in the second half of a 2-0 loss to Chelsea. Rodgers has successfully overseen Gerrard’s transition from all-rounder to deep-lying midfielder. Henderson provides the movement and stamina that was a feature of Gerrard’s game in the midfield engine room, but the Sunderland man can lack the attacking guile that saw the England captain open up rival defences at will. Lallana could be the man to take up that role. A potential midfield partnership of Henderson and Lallana is exciting for Liverpool supporters – and England fans, too. Lallana has an eye for the spectacular goal (like Gerrard), but another feature of his game is his ability to create chances for Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez. Lallana’s arrival wouldn’t spell the end for Gerrard, simply create a three-man midfield axis.
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