After last week’s piece from Eion on the Liverpool future of Alberto Moreno, it’s time for another instalment of ‘Keep or Sell’ on LFCHQ. For those new to the series, the site’s writers will give their views on various Liverpool players and what kind of a future they have at Anfield, having their say on whether the player should be retained by Jurgen Klopp or moved on to pastures new.
If you’d like to have your say, scroll down to the bottom of the piece to vote in the Twitter poll from @LiverpoolFCHQ_; of course, we hope you’re already following the site and perhaps may have cast your vote already!
Having had our say on Moreno last week, the player under the microscope this time is another who joined the club four years ago – midfielder, Adam Lallana. It took £25 million to prise him from Southampton in July 2014 after he excelled for the Saints in their first two seasons back in the Premier League.
Despite signing him from the south coast, then-LFC manager Brendan Rodgers shunted Lallana in and out of the starting line-up in the midfielder’s first 14 months at the club, with opinions divided as to whether the England international had what it takes to prosper at Anfield.
Once Klopp took the reins in October 2015, Lallana became a far more consistent feature in the first team and his form improved drastically as a result. He was one of the best midfielders in the Premier League during the 2016/17 season as Liverpool returned to their rightful place in the top four, but last season was dogged by injury for the St Alban’s native. Having turned 30 in May, and with midfield competition hotting up, the time has come to pose the question as to whether Lallana should be retained or offered for sale. Here are both sides of the argument:
The Case For Keeping Lallana
The England midfielder’s ability is undoubted, with Lallana playing a crucial role the season before last as Liverpool finally secured a return to the Champions League. His goal record might not be exceptional, but he makes numerous chances for the front men and can also fill in as a wide player in the front three if needed. Although, he is at his best when operating in the middle third of the field.
Think back to the final few weeks of last season when Liverpool’s midfield options were extremely limited. Despite facing a glut of crucial fixtures, injuries meant that Klopp was forced to play James Milner, Jordan Henderson, and Georginio Wijnaldum every time, as there was simply no available backup.
Brilliantly, and as that trio did in the run-in, none of them offered a real creative spark and it showed in frustrating games such as the home draw against Stoke and defeat to Chelsea, when top four seemed to be slipping away. Having Lallana back ought to provide even further ammunition for the deadly front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah.
You only need to look at how Lallana’s form has improved to show he has the right attitude for Klopp’s team. After those frustrating first few months under Rodgers, the midfielder’s confidence could easily have slipped and he might have left Anfield with his tail between his legs. Instead, he remained determined to prove to Klopp that he was worthy of his place in the team and how he has dispelled the doubters since then. Even when he was inexplicably left out by Rodgers, Lallana never whinged, either. He knew that he had the ability to make a fixed starting berth his own.
The Case For Selling Lallana
Klopp’s high-tempo gameplan requires rapid movement and he generally looks to younger players to execute it. Lallana entered his 30s three days before the concluding Premier League game of last season, so he is very much approaching veteran status. With Naby Keita arriving for big money, Fabinho capable of playing in the middle and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to return from long-term injury, the competition for midfield places will intensify as the winter months approach. And, if the others are in good form, Lallana might find it difficult to win back his place.
Also, his abortive 2017/18 makes you wonder if he will get back to the effervescent brilliance of the previous season. He might be enjoying the summer off after missing the cut for England’s World Cup squad, but Lallana was clearly nowhere near his sharpest whenever he did feature in the closing weeks of the season.
When Salah was forced off in the Champions League final, Lallana still had more than an hour to make his mark but sadly the game passed him by. Had that been 12 months previously, he’d have been right at the coalface for the Reds and Salah’s injury blow might not have been as acutely felt. When players miss the bulk of a season through injury once they get into their 30s, the question of whether they can ever recapture peak form is a legitimate one.
Keep or Sell?
For me, it’s an easy call. He has to stay. Yes, he might not saunter back into the starting XI for the first few weeks of 2018/19, but as last season showed, Liverpool will need to mix and match their midfield options throughout another hectic campaign with Champions League football.
Emre Can’s departure deprives the Reds of one midfield option from last term, even if the nature of the German’s exit was not sorely lamented by Kopites. A summer of recovery should see Lallana get his sharpness back and there’s no guarantee that the midfield newcomers will shine, so jettisoning the England maestro would be foolish in the extreme. When we inevitably do find ourselves struggling to make a breakthrough against a well-organised bottom half team, his guile could be the key that turns one point into three.
So that’s my two cents on Lallana’s role at the club. Do you agree that he should be kept? Vote in the poll below and have your say on Twitter at @LiverpoolFCHQ_.