Contrary to popular opinion, it is okay to talk about Adam Lallana without mentioning his price tag. There are plenty of other things to discuss when it comes to the 26-year-old former Southampton captain, including his ability on the ball, his place at the heart of some of Liverpool's better attacking play on the season, and, unfortunately, his frequent absence from Brendan Rodgers' squad due to injury.
While it's apparently more fun to introduce him by price tag rather than given name, the narrative surrounding Lallana's first season should be one focused on flashes of promise and frustrations through injury rather than cost. When healthy, he's been among the more impressive in the squad, but the bookends of his season to date have been costly, time-erasing injuries. He missed all of the preseason and the first few matches of the regular season with injury, and now, after suffering a groin injury in the 2-1 loss against Manchester United, he's looking at a race to return to fitness in order to feature for a full month at season's end.
It has made for a frustrating opening season on Merseyside, but one that Lallana hopes will lead to better thingscome next fall:
"It's not gone great. It started off with injury and I've had another over the last few weeks with a few more in between. It's been quite frustrating if I'm being honest and I haven't been out on the pitch as much as I'd have liked. Getting injured and missing pre-season I feel played a big part in my recurring injuries. It's a very important part for a footballer to get the basis of the fitness in. But I want to be fully fit for the run-in, we've still got an outside chance of making the top four, and that's something I want to be a part of. And obviously the last game of the season is the FA Cup final.
"I'm looking to come back in next season, get a good basis in with my fitness and kick on from there. We knew it wasn't going to be easy with the amount of new recruits that came in. But I think we have proved to everyone and ourselves that we are a good team. We've put in some great performances over the second half of the season and we'll be looking to build on that over the next couple of years. It would be the icing on the cake to win on Sunday and get to the final. It's been exciting playing in the new formation, but I feel we can utilise a number of different formations which is always handy to have. The last couple of games we have reverted back to the old system, but it gives us the opportunity to change and switch back if that's what the manager wants to do."
Like Daniel Sturridge, Lallana is left to hope that he can make the best of what's left in the current season, with sights firmly set on the 2015-2016 season as a chance to firmly re-establish himself in the first team. This will be a crucial summer for Liverpool in the transfer market, but their work to rehabilitate and rest some of this season's regulars will prove just as important, as both Sturridge and Lallana figure to feature heavily in the campaign to follow.