The biggest thing that happened involving Liverpool on an exceptionally quiet deadline day was not sending Rickie Lambert to Aston Villa in a proposed £5M deal. It might even have been the biggest thing that happened to Liverpool on the transfer front all window, competing for that honour with the recall of Jordon Ibe from his loan at Derby County.
Every Liverpool fan, though, knows that it was a quiet window and a quiet deadline day for the club. What they didn’t know until now at least was why Rickie Lambert decided to turn down the promise of regular minutes at Aston Villa and a chance to help the West Midlands club save their season. That’s changed today, with Lambert sitting down with the Liverpool Echo to explain his thinking.
"I wasn’t aware of any interest until deadline day," he said. "I got a phone call from the gaffer about 4PM saying Aston Villa had come in. He said he didn’t want me to go but basically offered me the chance if I wanted to play [regular] football, which is fair enough. I spoke to my agent, I spoke to my wife, I spoke to Aston Villa and it was close. It was very close. It was touch and go.
"The deal was agreed, but in the end, there just wasn’t enough time to say ‘yes,’ to make a decision in the space of four or five hours for the next two-and-a-half years. Not just for me but for my family as well. It was something I just couldn’t do. It was too short notice. It was too big of a decision to make in the short amount of time I had."
News of just how late Lambert became aware that Aston Villa was an option will be a surprise to many. While their offer of a permanent transfer may have arrived late in the window, there had been whispers of interest from Villa along with Crystal Palace for weeks. In the end, though, it’s easy to understand that in that short of a time frame, deciding to leave Liverpool so soon would have been a hard thing to say yes to for Lambert.
"It was nothing negative towards Aston Villa," added the striker. "I just didn’t think it was right for me to leave here just six months into my Liverpool career. I didn’t want to go. It was something I probably would have looked back at in a few years and regretted it if I had moved too early. It’s hard sometimes when you aren’t playing, but I’m at the club I love. I’m not willing to give up that easily."