Lallana in Limbo

Lallana in Limbo

Call me miserable, and rest assured you won’t be the first, but there’s an underlying apathy towards Liverpool Football Club at the moment. I mean, even after the acquisition of Bobby Firmino, as pleased as I am, I couldn’t help but revert back to my repetitive, crestfallen self. Be it the result of the end-of-season review; Jimmy Milner’s proposed wage bracket or the perpetual links to Christian Benteke, there’s something in the air.

After a brief scan of my Twitter, I couldn’t help but notice the frequency of recent tweets dedicated to Adam Lallana – he’s very much on my agenda at the moment. Now, I don’t particularly dislike Lallana, he’s certainly not as arrogant as the other big-money signing from the South coast, and he hasn’t had the audacity to behold the iconic number ‘7’ shirt. By the same token, I don’t particularly rate Lallana, either. Yet, despite his substandard opening season, remains staunch Lallana defenders that, despite his fee – which I was recently told was “irrelevant” – believe he’s good enough to start for Liverpool. Having recently acquired Bobby Firmino, complimenting an impressive array of existing attacking talent, that assertion is somewhat questionable.

Lallana in Limbo

First and foremost, let’s examine his transfer fee: £23m. Liverpool’s interest in Lallana was supposedly firm during the season, ergo, it was inevitable a summer bid would present it. Coming off a season where Liverpool nearly clinched the title, more importantly boasting a Champions League place, it was pretty underwhelming to see the club willingly invest a premium fee in a player who, really, wouldn’t look wholly unapposite in a mid-table side. Contrastingly, leaping back 12 months in the 2013 summer window, the club pursued more established, elite forward players in Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Diego Costa and Willian, who, as most would concede, are players of a higher calibre, commanding very similar transfer fees. Crucially, too, last summer’s window saw the club lose one of the best to ever grace Liverpool Red in Luis Suarez, making an elite replacement absolutely necessary. The recently acquired Firmino was available, Bayern starlet Xherdan Shaqiri was too after an impressive World Cup display – both of whom more befitting. United’s new signing Memphis Depay was also attainable. In essence, Lallana’s fee did matter, as he virtually acted as the Suarez replacement; and I don’t need to spell out to you the drop in quality, do I?

Generally speaking, the same arguments for Lallana crop up every time. He presses; he’s technically sound; he scores goals; he creates goals. Apparently.

Let’s address each defence for him individually. Firstly, Lallana doesn’t press. Pressing constitutes intelligence and discipline; chasing raggedly towards opposition defenders doesn’t constitute pressing. Lallana has a knack for the latter, dispelling any notion that he “suits the system”. Pressing seemingly vanished from Liverpool last season, anyway, but the high intensity and blitzkrieg style of football proved so fruitful for us in 13/14, where pressing was a profound contributor in the success of that style. Brendan himself has championed the motion, yet remains a keen admirer of Lallana. Henderson presses; Coutinho presses; Allen presses; Suarez pressed. Lallana doesn’t. Of the entire offensive Liverpool arsenal, it was only Lallana who was deployed in his favoured position last season. Despite this, he didn’t perform, and the post-Christmas transformation saw him get an extended run in the side, even at the expense of superior personnel. Markovic featured regularly at right-wing back and left-wing back; Sterling was shunted out wide too, while Balotelli was unjustly expelled. Still, Lallana didn’t deliver, with Coutinho having to do a lot of the former’s work for him.

On the highlight reel, Lallana’s brilliant; his cute turns, his pristine touch, his gliding demeanour are all glamorous, and there’s no denying he looks the part. Unfortunately, for all of the flash, there’s very little substance. In terms of input, he offers very little. His impact is minuscule, relative to the likes of Coutinho and Sterling, who are supremely more influential. The success of 13/14 was based on the foundation of pace and rapid transition; Lallana is simply incapable. For every touch Sterling takes, Lallana takes three more. In abundance with his acceleration struggle, where he takes longer to reach full pelt, his inclusion is to the detriment of the team. Sturridge, Sterling, Coutinho, Markovic and Ibe are all extremely quick and all thus possess the requisite attributes to execute their attacking roles effectively, exploiting said pace, where Lallana proves a hindrance.

Further, Lallana at his maximum level isn’t physically capable of enduring 90 minutes or so; in fact, once the hour mark has passed, it’s advisable to remove him. For example, at Liverpool, from his 27 league appearances, only 8 of those saw Lallana stay on the field, whereby he was substituted 15 times. Admittedly, Lallana has had a series of injuries to contend with, but a similar pattern is evident at Southampton; from 38 league appearances in 13/14, he was substituted 19 times, with 18 full games to his name. In 12/13, of 30 total appearances Lallana played just 14 full games – clearly, all three managers in this period accept his physical shortcomings.

A personal favourite is the supposed contribution to both goals and assists. To compare the observation, I bracket it with “We don’t need a DM” – but we’ll save that for another day. Alternatively, head over to Twitter. It’s always a laugh, like.

Moving on, for a £23m attacker, I’d consider the two a given. However, his track record would suggest that, actually, his contributions to both are quite minuscule. For Liverpool, Lallana managed 5 goals last season – two of which coming in one game; all of which against considerably lesser opposition. On the assist count, he managed another 5 – a grand total of 10 goals. For Southampton, Lallana recorded 9 goals alongside 5 assists – a grand total of 14 goals in 13/14, and a total of 8 goals in 12/13.

Condensed: 32 Premier League goal contributions – be it through himself or an assist – in 95 league appearances. 17 league goals in 95 league appearances; 15 assists in 95 league appearances. £23 million.

As mentioned, Liverpool have recently acquired the services of Hoffenheim’s Roberto Firmino for a rumoured £21 million – a considered alternative to Lallana last summer. To compare, Firmino scored 7 last season and assisted 10,  scoring 16 and assisting 11 a season earlier too. It’s worth noting Firmino is considerably younger than the player in question, too. Lallana’s record is mediocre at best, regrettably coming at a premium fee. Clearly, the wrong choice was made last summer, however costly.

Moreover, it’s interesting that the Lallana bid was a drawn out affair with Southampton yet, despite the length, the bid remained unopposed. Mauricio Pochettino left Southampton for Spurs and wasn’t interested; United weren’t interested; Arsenal weren’t interested. Nobody challenging for the top spots were interested, bar Livepool, which in itself is quite telling. Nobody other than Brendan Rodgers – which isn’t Lallana’s fault, I concede – deemed the player worthy of obtaining. Second only to his Southampton counterpart Dejan Lovren, Lallana’s signing was the most frustrating as it illustrated Rodgers’ reluctance to shop abroad for better, cheaper quality. Indeed, once Firmino and Depay are under-way, perhaps even Shaqiri too, the Lallana investment will be reviewed.

Lallana will undoubtedly feature this season. Rodgers will persist in trying to justify the enormous investment, as witnessed in chunks of last season, regardless of whether it’s to the detriment of the side. Based on merit, however, it’s impossible to place Lallana in the starting line-up. Sturridge, Coutinho, Firmino, Balotelli, Markovic, Ibe, Origi, Ings will all vie for a place, with Sterling not yet gone and a new forward still to arrive, ultimately leaving Lallana as squad filler. For £23m, that’s a luxury we cannot afford.

by

We might go to the same barber, but I have a slightly better haircut.

https://twitter.com/Michael_Fitz97

Comments

19 responses to “Lallana in Limbo”

  1. KevinRB says:

    Excellent article….and spookily if you just change the name it applies to EVERY player we bought last Summer!.

    • Connor says:

      There is a lack of research done in this article in terms of available transfers from last summer. Firmino and Shaqiri were not available. Firmino signed a new contract with Hoffenheim in the spring of 2014. It was obvious he was staying on there for another season. Contracts don’t mean as much nowadays, but signing a contract right before a transfer window is usually a sign of them staying. Also, there were reports that came out in January that Bayern rejected Liverpool any opportunity to sign Shaqiri. So again he was not an option. In these comments I have also seen someone mentione Griezmann as an option when he chose to go to a club that had just won La Liga and played in the Champions League final. There is no way he would choose Liverpool over that, especially since he already played in Spain for Real Sociedad.

  2. Glyn carradice says:

    That’s crap he’s a class player and you’ll see that this year

    • Well, Glyn, that’s a sharp observation. After over 1000 words discussing the issue, I’m glad we can arrive in solace at your intuitive conclusion. Thanks for reading.

  3. G G says:

    agree his performance was substandard last season but I watched him at Southampton and he did show for them (despite statistics). I say continue to give him a chance. He’s got potential and can do good. His heart is in it – which is more than I can say for some others at the club. The boys simply need to get rid of their egos and play for each other this season. That will get us results. And please Brendan, play two strikers up front please. One holding target man (Balo/Benteke) and one penetrator (Sturridge/Firmino) – etc. something like that. You get my point right.

  4. Bola Ani says:

    You are brave and certainly not miserable. Brave because, you have started a discussion that now will be on the mind of all Liverpool fans which certainly will put Lallana under that microscope as you clearly done. Truth be told. I watched Lallana last season and kept wondering why the amount but then, I quickly reminded my self that it could be the injury. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt so I will disregard the fee just so I can really be objective…I know the microscopes are out now no doubt…Thanks Michael

  5. Jack Creegan says:

    I’m a firm admirer of Lallana, I think he can bring a lot to the table, but these numbers do not lie, you are correct in that. I think you’re judgement of him may be a bit harsh for the time being. In time I believe he undoubtedly has the class to live up to the price, but it has to be soon. He has to impress early or else he will have missed his chance.

  6. Mark says:

    Fantastic article, Lallana is the second worst Liverpool signing ever in my humble opinion. The first being Andy Carroll of course. And they both share something really unique, for whatever reason, they always get (or got in Carroll’s case) a pass from the great majority of fans and pundits. There’s almost no impartiality when it comes to these two. Not by me though, I call a spade a spade and a dud a dud. End of.

    I don’t have anything against the player per se, a big club came in for him with a crazy offer and huge wages and he said yes, like most of us would. Whowever scouted him however, needs to be ousted from the club pronto.

    Rule number one, never pursue a player who spends the majority of his time on the field with his head down, looking at the ball. That’s the mark of a midtable fodder.

    As for the rest of his game, I really don’t see it. Too slow, too weak, too many touches, no passing range (long or short), no creativity, no dribbling ability (for comparison; Coutinho ended the Premier League season with 109 completed take ons – which was only behind Hazard and Sanchez for instance – Sterling managed 103, Firmino in Germany was one of the best dribblers in Europe with over 140 take ons in the Bundesliga…Lallana on the other hand, only got 30), stamina (he is spent after 60 minutes as you said, amongst other things.

    I’m not much of a stats guy (although I did use them to get my point across in the paragraph above) but it doesn’t take much to see the difference in quality between Lallana and the likes of Coutinho, Sterling and Firmino, in fact, it shouldn’t take anyone no more than 5 minutes. That’s not to mention the opportunity Rodgers lost, when he had Champions League football and top wages to offer potential class players who were looking to move that window, like Griezmann.

    As I said, I don’t mind the guy, in fact he seems like a nice chap but looking at it objectively, from a footballing point of view, I just don’t rate him as a player at all. I don’t see him getting much of a game here either.

    • Kirk Hemmings says:

      Griezmann? Know for a fact we could get him? I’m here to defend Lallana but the players being banded about as potential better buys are ridiculous! How do you know we could get them? The players in this article are retarded (I only read to the pressing bit because this article is basically rubbish so apologies if there are more suitable players named afterwards) he mentions players from the summer before that all chose somewhere else and Fimini after just one good year in Germany (was an insanely good year granted). And Shaqiri!!?? WTF he’s targetted by Stoke – teams don’t go for someone well out there league ofter – and Inter don’t want him back and neither do Bayern. Tell you much?? He’s not your cup of tea I get it but REALISTICALLY who’s available and better and don’t just look FIFA to see.
      PS I do rate Lallana but that does not mean I see him in starting 11 every week and playing a higher percentage of minutes. But that does make him a brilliant bench option. Thus GOOD SQUAD PLAYER, as he is meant to be, just moderm football economy makes squad players more expensive now, especially if there British, hence the inflated transfer fee. But what transfer fee is not?. Stop talking about the fee and just see it as 50% compensation for selling a key component which most transfer fees are. Oh and “spends games with his head down”, “no dribbling abillity” and “no passing range”? Goal against WBA just a fluke, like his goal against Hull year before, assist to Lambert against Palace a fluke too (even though we got smashed that game, but beside the point)?

    • Mark says:

      I stopped reading after you said Firmino had “one good year in Germany”. You couldn’t be more wrong mate, Firmino has been one of Europe’s top performers for the past 3 seasons. Check his dribblings stats are only behind Messi and Hazard, goals and assists? He is ahead of any Bundesliga player.

      Lallana is mediocre at best and poor in most games, your denial won’t change that. He will be at the likes of Villa or Sunderland in no time. He’s a poor man’s Benayoun who cost the same as Fabregas sadly.

      Liverpool have finally woken up to the fact we need quality players in. The board are linked to Pedro and Lacazette now. The kind of players the likes of Coutinho deserves to be playing alongside with, not midtable dross with no valuable attribute. It’s looking very likely we’ll get them in, with Ibe and even Marko showing promise, Lallana will be lucky to make the bench.

    • Kirk Hemmings says:

      I just Googled Firmino stats for 11/12, 12/13 he scored 2 more goals in 11/12 and did not get more assists in either season that Lallana’s first season at Liverpool. I did not watch Firmino that, or any, season but from them (your precious) stats you could tell he’s a worldy would that not make Lallana a good squad player? As my point is.
      We needed a BIGGER and better squad last summer so certain criteria needed to be met. Homegrown players, as you need 18 in a 35 man squad (I think can’t remember not Googling it), players that will fit they system and so on. Lallana fits all of these, the English aspect the main cause for the inflated price (repeating this again, hence the price of Shaw, Henderson (he’s brill so don’t misinterpret my tansfer fee point), Rodwell, list goes on). And did Cesc not cost 30+ and in this day and age would you not say that would be put in the more cheaper category like Kroos? I digress, we got one Southampton key players are you really saying they would be worse if they still had Lallana? Not as if they needed the money from his transfer to bring in the players did. You said your not a stats guy but you keeping using his dribbling stats as the be all and end all. Are the lads stats that’s just signed for West Ham not better than Firmino’s? Don’t confuse my use of Firmino as an example as negative, I’m buzzed about his signing. Dirgressing again, have Liverpool made a mess of all the signings, including Lazar (who you nentioned) because West Ham signed whatever his name is, for less that Firmino and Lazar cost? No because stats are not everything, as you pointed out (confusing). “Poor” in most games? Why? He was uneffective in games but that’s what you get from a stop start season and playing in an under performing team. That’s not proof of a lack quality. Quality squad player I say again, just like Yossi was. Why are not slating Coutinho and Mignet for there poor first half of the season and using them performances as proof of lack of quality ? Because they turned it around. Is Lallana completely unable of better? As you should have gathered I don’t think Lallana is a worldy but you can’t use the words mediocre and poor to describe him. I’m taking you’ve only been a Liverpool fan for 4 and a half years because you thinks he’s second worst signing, maybe you did not watch the 13/14 season either. A few names for your second worst title: Poulsen, Aspas, Adam, Diao, Diouf, Kyriagkos, all our 3rd and 2nd keepers, Josemi, Cissoko, Downing, Jovanovic, list goes on. Pick one.

    • Gareth Kerswell says:

      First of all, anyone who says ‘in my humble opinion’ should be instantly ousted from any debate. It is one of the most arrogant phrases in usage that essentially means ‘this is my opinion, and it is the only one that matters’ Secondly, one of the two worst signings ever? OK so you rate Balotelli higher, less goals or assists for the season at 16 mil….Iago Aspas, 1 goal hero bought at 9mil. Then you have the like of El Hadji Diouf. 11 mil and the only thing people remember about him is his spitting at a Celtic fan.

      Lallana had a high transfer fee, granted. We pay a premium for English playes now because of the criteria needed. Hendo was 18-20mil and 2 years ago most fans were slating him as an expensive waste of time. Lallana has great vision and passing, he showed it in glimpses at Liverpool, he showed it in vast qusntities at Southampton, but as a more central midfielder, his balls were to the widemen who ended up with the assists. To quote stats without knowing the permentations is crass at best, and arrogance at worst.

      If you are a Liverpool fan, concentrate on supporting the team that we all love, and stop slagging of the players we have. Otherwise you are no better than a fairweather Man U fan!!

    • Ironic, huh? Your disdain for ‘in my humble opinion’ is equal to my visceral dislike for ‘If you are a Liverpool fan…’ What you’re advocating is someplace like Jonestown or a membership in the Manson Family: don’t question…don’t get frustrated by what’s happening with the team…just shut up and give your money.

      Sorry, bud: I don’t want any purple kool-aid right now.

  7. Kirk Hemmings says:

    Stop reading at “Balotelli” and ” unjustly”. Tool. Does not press, goal against Swansea came from what? Saurez replacement? So having a squad of 12 instead of 13 seems a better idea. Necessary recruitment! Only player to play in favoured position? Coutinho not plat in an attacking role? That’s all I got because as I said stop reading. Your point on pressing is just filled with opinion and no facts, and one of your opinions attempts at the defence of Balotelli, WTF!? Article is just a bash for the sake of it and I’m just pissed I clicked on it and gave you another click. Really wish you could preview articles before you read them then you wouldn’t accidentally make rubbish news. Well done on the title I’ll give you that. I’ve never met you but I think your a prick.

  8. Dear Michael,

    I personally feel last summer,during the transfer market,the only mistake Rodgers made was not getting a Higuain or Benzema sort of a Striker. Having a striker leading the pack,scoring goals can inspire the whole team to perform better in every single match.
    In this highly inflated market,Lallana was worth the money we paid to get him.
    Even if we reached CL,very few people trusted us to perform well and achieve it again. A player like Costa or Fabregas or any other player you’re talking about would still not come because no one knows how consistent we can be.
    Major bad luck started when Sturridge got injured and Balotelli didn’t have a partner to play with.
    Another big mistake Rodgers made was that he didn’t buy any striker or call back Origi.
    We had a lucky patch where Rodger’s changes clicked and we won a lot but it wasn’t a balanced team. Almost every player was player out of position. Sooner or later they had to start making mistakes.
    According to me, Lallana was a good buy and he will perform well next season surely.
    I feel really bad for Markovic who deserves to play next season in his position.
    I also feel Balotelli should stay for another season with us and should be played along with a mobile striker. If he doesn’t perform by Jan,then loan/sell him in winter.
    We still do need to buy another striker and i’ll be happy with Benteke because we need to change our system a little and cross a lot more.

  9. Fitzgerald shoots! He scores! What this article does is highlight one of the many reasons I think Bumbling, Bewildered Brendan Rodgers should have been replaced as Manager — and that’s his inability to judge talent (we can save his shortcomings as a strategist and motivator (saw Sterling told Rodgers today that there won’t be a “Raheem sighting” Down Under) for its own week-long TV mini-series).

    Last season Liverpool bid against itself with Lallana as opposed to signing Shaqiri for less. Why? Is it that Liverpool must have English players? Is it that Rodgers thinks players with EPL experience are superior to all others? Or is it that Rodgers & Co. just don’t evaluate well?

    I’m going to vote for Answer #3 — especially after it was reported today that Javier Manquillo will not fulfill his second season on loan with Liverpool. In other words: a guy whom Liverpool chased after was deemed to not be worthwhile after he was watched in practice and a few games? So why wasn’t that learned when scouting Manquillo?

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Published by Anfield Index
Updated: 2015-07-07 08:07:08
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