With England crashing out of the World Cup and Southampton having filled their managerial vacancy, Liverpool have moved quickly to complete the signing of Adam Lallana. A fee of around £25M including add-ons has been agreed between the two clubs, and it's only a matter of medicals and signed documents standing in the way of Liverpool completing the signing of Brendan Rodgers' top midfield target.
DOB: 10/5/88 (26) | Height: 5'8" (1.73 meters)
2014 Season: 43 appearances (39 starts)
11 goals, 6 assists
Strengths: Lallana may not be fast, but he is quick. Quick of thought, quick with the ball at his feet, quick to change direction and accelerate. That makes him ideally suited to operate in the crowded areas of the pitch, though his positional flexibility often leads to him being played as an inside forward on the right or left. It's in the thick of the action where Lallana's qualities truly shine, though, his ability to read the game and to beat opponents thanks to his superior dribbling skills making him one of the top attacking midfielders in the Premier League.
Last season he was rightly named to the PFA team of the year, beating out the likes of Manchester City's David Silva, perhaps the player whose talents with the ball at his feet Lallana matches most closely. He previously was named to the PFA's Championship team of the year in 2011-12 and to the League One team of the year in 2010-11, having stood out at every level he has played at so far.
Amongst English players, Lallana's technical skills are unmatched, and as a creative, attacking threat the only names that serve as any kind of comparison are the likes of Silva, Andres Iniesta, or—amongst current Liverpool players—Philippe Coutinho. He's also a hard working team player. Though often knocked for being substituted, Lallana covered more distance in the Premier League last season than all but four other players. On Liverpool, he would have been second only to Jordan Henderson in how much running he did.
He's truly two footed, will score goals and set up teammates, and will work hard with and without the ball. He's a tactically, technically gifted footballer, and he instantly improves Liverpool's first eleven.
Weaknesses: There are few, at least for the roles he's likely to fill at Liverpool. He isn't a standout without the ball, but his game intelligence and willingness mean that he at least won't be a liability if he plays opposite Henderson as one of the shuttlers in a 4-4-2 diamond. His average pace also means that he'll be the one providing balls to counter-attacking players rather than leading the charge himself.
Really, the only meaningful knock on Lallana is his age and that Liverpool are buying at the peak of his value. However, for a side looking to build on a top four finish and desperately in need of players who can make an instant impact as they return to the Champions League, Liverpool were always going to have to pay top dollar for a player or two in their prime this summer.
Summation: £25M can seem a hefty sum, even if the guaranteed fee Liverpool will be paying will be less than that—their pre-World Cup final offer was reported to only include £15M in guaranteed money. There's a good reason he's Brendan Rodgers' top midfield target, though, and with transfer fees expected to rise by around 35% this summer due to the new Premier League television deal, it isn't an outrageous sum.
If projected inflation fees are accurate, that's £18.5M in last summer's money. For an English player in his prime who brings as much to the table as Lallana does, that's reason to celebrate.