There can be little doubt about how Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp feels about midfielder Adam Lallana. Even after spending a large part of the last two seasons injured, Kloppo is still eager to get Lallana involved in the team any way he can.
This affection for the England international is self evident, even though his role evolved with the squad, dropping deeper from an attacking midfielder role to the middle of the park. Now, it looks like Klopp is thinking about dropping Lallana even deeper, possibly to the number 6 role, defensive midfield.
“You see the sessions here, what a footballer he is, it’s incredible,” Klopp told the official club site during training on their US preseason tour.
“Still it feels like people say, ‘He was injured, he was injured’ – yes, but in the moment he is not. I had, for example, Ilkay Gundogan, who was twice, if not three times, really seriously injured and now for one or two years he is playing completely without any injury.
“So just no pressure, no rush, build up, really build a fitness level, work with the experience you made in the situations. And then everything will be fine.
“Football-wise, there is absolutely no doubt about Adam.”
After addressing the elephant in the room—Lallana’s less-than-stellar injury record—Klopp went on to discuss the possible role change for the midfielder.
“In the moment he plays a slightly different position, he enjoys it. He’s not now fixed in the No.6 position; we have players who played that position before and played it really well.
“But Adam is a midfielder through and through and he is an outstanding player. Outstanding players, you always try to find the best position on the pitch and in some games it’s possible the best position for Adam Lallana is the number 6.
“It must be a very dominant game, by the way, but he can play that. That’s why we do it, using pre-season for little experiments. That’s it.”
After Fabinho’s fantastic first season at the club, it’s hard to see Lallana (or anyone else) displacing the Brazilian at the 6. However, with captain Jordan Henderson getting an extended run further up the pitch, it opens up the possibility of someone (other than Hendo) deputizing when Fabinho is rested or otherwise unavailable.
By now we really should trust in Klopp with squad decisions such as these. Although most Liverpool fans do not rate Lallana as highly as the German manager, he clearly shows something special in training to still be so well regarded, despite the injuries and lack of regular first-team minutes.
Though, all things being equal, I’d prefer we stick with Fabinho in the 6 as much as possible.