In his final season at Southampton, Adam Lallana scored 10 goals and eight assists. He pressed and harried opponents constantly. There was end product to go along with his hard work and fancy footwork, and because of it he was rightly named to the Premier League’s team of the season. He also earned a £25M move to Liverpool.
That production dropped off. So too did his effectiveness without the ball. Lallana looked a useful player, but not a £25M one, and many fans who might not have been paying attention to him at Southampton wrote him off as a squad player at best. Jürgen Klopp’s arrival, though, changed things, and ex-Red John Aldridge thinks we’re now seeing the real Adam Lallana.
“Lallana has really kicked on this season and is playing with so much confidence,” Aldridge noted in his column for The Liverpool Echo. “He keeps getting in good areas and he’s added goals to his game. He got a great ovation from the supporters on Saturday and rightly so. Now we’re seeing the player we wanted to see two years ago.”
In some ways, Lallana’s slow adjustment to life at Liverpool mirrors his final two seasons at Southampton—and that club’s first two after being promoted to the Premier League. In the first, Lallana scored just three goals and six assists. In the second, his production caught up with his work rate and fancy footwork—and to what it had been in the Championship.
Waving it away as an adjustment period, though, misses one important factor: the manager. At Southampton in 2012-13 for their first season in Premier League, Lallana started off working under Nigel Adkins. He ended it, and played his breakout 2013-14 season, under Mauricio Pochettino, whose high-press approach got the best out of Lallana.
Perhaps, then, it shouldn’t be surprising that at Liverpool, Klopp has gotten the best out of Lallana and has him again looking like a player who could end up in the Premier League’s team of the season. Once again, fans are seeing the Adam Lallana who earned a £25M move to Anfield—though they’re seeing him in a new position, played as the eight.
“You have to give the manager massive credit for seeing the potential Lallana had to play in this new role,” added Aldridge. “He’s the link between the midfield and the attack. He sets the tone with his pressing and his energy. Lallana is so important to the way we play.”