There were fewer stories more romantic last summer than Rickie Lambert's move to Liverpool, but fewer seasons less suited for romance than that 2014-2015 campaign. A difficult campaign for the club as a whole saw the veteran striker pushed into first-team action on a far more regular basis than planned, and despite his best efforts it never quite clicked. And now, after long-standing rumors surrounding an exit, it never will for Lambert at Liverpool, as the club have accepted a £3m bid from West Brom.
With Christian Benteke, Danny Ings, and Divock Origi arriving this summer and Daniel Sturridge set to return from injury some time this fall, Liverpool's striking department has had a complete overhaul, and it's been made clear that Lambert, Mario Balotelli, and Fabio Borini have no future at Anfield. Lambert was perhaps the only one the club might have kept around were it not for concerns about playing time. Struggles on the pitch aside, he's been a model professional since arriving, and by all accounts he was an excellent teammate during a difficult season.
That much is evident given the role he was granted this summer even in the midst of a looming transfer; while Borini, Balotelli, and Jose Enrique were left behind for the preseason tour and are reportedly training away from the first team, Lambert's been involved throughout. A move away comes with the promise of playing time, which is critical for a 33-year-old, but it also has to come with some sadness for both player and club, as neither provided what they would have wanted during the striker's time at Liverpool.
Liverpool's role in that seems more to blame than Lambert's, but at this point it's irrelevant, as a deal should be made official shortly to move him on to the West Midlands. He should be an excellent fit for his new club and manager, and opportunities will come far more frequently to have an impact. One week before the start of the Premier League season isn't a ton of time, but he'll be able to train with his new teammates and will hopefully be in the squad for their opener against Manchester City on August 10.
This move is expected to open up the number 9 shirt for Christian Benteke, who was the only one of the new signings not to have a number confirmed after his announcement. The Belgian striker should see his first Liverpool action this weekend against either HJK Helsinki or Swindon Town, with the latter rumored to be more likely, and carry with it the possibility of a debut for Roberto Firmino as well.