Yesterday evening, news broke across the Twitterverse and eventually the news wire that Liverpool had lodged a bid of £4 million plus playing time incentives for one Rickie Lambert. A revised offer of £4.5 million earlier today has been accepted by Southampton and their leading striker of the past five years is expected to undergo a medical at Liverpool tomorrow.
With that in mind, it's time to dust off the ol' scouting notebook, and bring you a scouting report on just what kind of player Liverpool are bringing in. Without further ado, let's dig in.
DOB: 2/16/82 (32) | Height: 6'2" (1.88 meters)
2014 Season: 39 appearances (37 starts)
14 goals (3 penalties), 10 assists
Strengths: Lambert is tall, and thanks to exceptional balance and jumping ability, he can play even taller. He's also fairly strong, letting him bang around in the box with the toughest of defenders. In those respects, he's the best target man type of forward that Liverpool have had since Andy Carroll, with only Daniel Sturridge having been able to come close to filling that role in the last two years.
He's not just a big lunk that you can toss the ball up to and hope he heads it in, though. Lambert's got a deft touch with his feet, capable of linking passes and through balls with equal aplomb, a skill that will fit in well with Liverpool's attack once he meshes with Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and the rest of the gang. He's also got a hammer of a right foot, which shows up on his excellent free kicks and shots from outside the box.
Oh, and Lambert is pretty much the English God Of Penalties, only missing one in his entire career. That's impressive no matter how you slice it.
Weaknesses: Lambert's never been a particularly fast player, nor does his game especially rely on speed, but age has sapped much of what he had in that department. Between that and a not-stellar accurate passing range, Liverpool won't be able to employ their lightning counters quite as easily with him on the pitch.
He's also not that great when his team is without the ball. He can press OK, but he's not really going to be able to harry a defender trying to bring the ball out of the back. Despite his size, he's not really a huge asset in defending set pieces, as he's just never seemed to read things well in that situation for some reason. Those defensive drawbacks can lead to him either just floating in to space to have room to receive the ball after a change of possession, which is good, or just checking out for a bit until things change, which isn't good.
Other Thoughts: As a Kirkby native, a move to Liverpool would be a homecoming of sorts for Lambert. Liverpool fans have always received their local heroes well, and if he thinks he's been welcomed warmly at Anfield as a visiting player, he'll get absolutely showered with love the first time he scores in front of the Kop with the liverbird on his chest. Lambert knows this, and has talked about potentially wanting that experience in the past, so you'd have to think that combined with Champions League football (ed. note - I will never get tired of saying that) is a huge reason for him to want a move to Liverpool at this stage of his career.
Summation: At 32 years old, Lamberts probably not going to be wow'ing anybody any more. With Liverpool, though, he'd be the third or fourth striker on the depth chart, rotating in to rest Sturridge or Suarez, and coming in to games late to either help the squad shut down a match or give them a different tactical look while chasing a goal.
Most important is that "different tactical look". Liverpool have been aching for the ability to bring in a physical presence up front for the entirety of Brendan Rodgers' tenure with Liverpool, and Lambert finally gives them exactly that. It's something that's been badly needed at times, especially later in matches or against certain opponents that give Liverpool's existing squad matchup issues. Being able to plug in that guy without losing much in the technical department is just gravy. Tasty, tasty gravy.
In that context, it's hard not to like this deal. With quality depth needed all over the roster, being able to spend around £4.5 million on a player on reasonable wages who you can just plug in and not feel like you need to worry about is amazing. While it might be nicer if Lambert was younger, it's really, really hard not to like this deal.
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