Why Adam Lallana won’t be the latest English flop at Liverpool
Liverpool have a history of signing English flops in recent times, but Adam Lallana's Reds career won't be defined by price tag
Liverpool fans may view the £25m deal for Adam Lallana with trepidation, but the midfielder’s Reds career won’t be defined by his price-tag.
The 26-year-old playmaker finally put pen to paper on a long-term Reds deal on Tuesday morning following months of speculation linking Lallana with a big-money switch to the 18-time English champions.
The Southampton skipper becomes Liverpool’s second-most expensive English signing, falling short of Andy Carroll’s Reds record £35m fee in January 2011, but placing ahead of Stewart Downing and his new midfield colleague Jordan Henderson.
Reflecting on Carroll and Downing’s spell at Liverpool, the story starts and ends with their transfer fees, which proved a confidence-sapping burden for the northern pair, despite previously impressing at Newcastle United and Middlesbrough.
But other Liverpool players who have arrived on (admittedly inflated) transfer fees have proven their time at the club does not have to end in disappointment.
Over the past 18 months, Henderson, 24, has started to fulfil the potential that Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli obviously saw to persuade them to splash a reported £20m on the England international three years ago.
It has been suggested that Lallana could fall into the same category as Carroll and Downing: a pricey English flop. That won’t be the case, though.
True, Fenway Sports Group have paid the ‘English premium’ to land Lallana; £25m is a sizeable fee for a midfielder who has just nine England caps and no experience of playing in the Champions League or Europa League.
However, Lallana’s potential to develop under Rodgers, who has already revitalised Henderson and expertly managed teenage protegee Raheem Sterling in his first 26 months at Anfield, is hugely exciting.
Unlike Carroll and Downing, Liverpool haven’t signed Lallana based on the Moneyball model. It is Rodgers’s philosophy which defines what players are suited to the Reds, a right earned by the club’s on-field success.
“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,” Rodgers said in May.
Lallana certainly fits that bill; the 26-year-old is one of the most-uniquely gifted Englishman in the league, according to the likes of former Fulham midfielder Jimmy Bullard and ex-Three Lions star Glenn Hoddle.
Expect the England midfielder to provide competition for Philippe Coutinho and Sterling for the left-wing and central positions behind striker Daniel Sturridge, presuming Luis Suarez is heading out of Anfield this summer.
The Liverpool manager will been keen to protect Sterling next season, who is still 19 and fresh from an emotionally and physically demanding World Cup campaign. The youngster suffered a burnout in 2012-13 – Lallana’s signing will give Rodgers greater freedom to rotate.
If Suarez joins Barcelona and Real Madrid in the summer transfer window, Rodgers can expect an extra £80m (if Liverpool secure their asking price) to boost his transfer budget.
With the benefit of hindsight, it is obvious Tottenham didn’t spend the £85.6m recouped from Gareth Bale’s world-record move wisely – club-record signing Erik Lamela barely featured last season, while Roberto Soldado failed to transfer his prolific form to the Premier League.
The north London side did move shrewdly to wrap up their deals before Bale’s move was confirmed, though – that was only positive to their summer transfer deals, and Christian Eriksen, too.
Liverpool have signed Rickie Lambert and agreed a deal for Bayer Leverkusen star Emre Can, while Lallana becomes their latest signing. Had Suarez already left, there is reason to believe Southampton could have bled an extra couple of million from John W Henry’s pockets.
So, overall, Lallana could prove a bargain. The Liverpool signing still has his best years ahead of him, and can continue to grow under Rodgers and in a system which is very familiar to the one that Mauricio Pochettino deployed last season.