The Premier League had been over for little more a day and the rumours had already been flying shelf with some interesting names in the hat. Man Utd have apparently indicated Luke Shaw as their long term replacement for Patrice Evra, with a potential £27 million bid to be submitted. Chelsea have wasted no time in trying to solve their striking problem with a rumoured £32 million bid agreed in principal with Atletico Madrid for start striker Diego Costa. Jose Mourinho will hope that the Spain striker who helped knock the Blues out of the Champions League will bring the same presence as a certain Didier Drogba. This article however will concentrate on Liverpool and their early pursuit of the talented Adam Lallana.
The winger has been picked as one of Roy Hodgson’s 23 men to fly out to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup after a marvellous campaign with Southampton which ultimately led him to a place in the Premier League’s Team of the Season. Liverpool are obviously looking to bolster their options after coming so close to the title this year. The Reds will look to improve the depth of their squad to again challenge for the title as well as making an impact in the Champions league next season.
Rodgers has been admired for his management style and recently won the LMA manager of the year award. However, what has really impressed many people in English football is his approach one building his squad around home grown talent. English clubs are now flooded with foreign talent which is good in terms of the entertainment of the game but has meant a lack of progression on the international stage. Liverpool now have the likes of Johnson, Gerrard and Sturridge as well as young stars in Henderson, Sterling and Flanagan, all of which have started the majority of Premier League games this season. Rodgers will again look to build on this philosophy with Lallana one of the first to be mentioned.
Lallana has been a revelation this season. A tricky attacking midfielder with a creative edge and terrific work rate, he has the ability to take on multiple defenders whilst contributing effectively in the goal scoring department. Southampton on a whole have had a brilliant season and in an attacking sense, most of it is due to the relationship of their front three men. Jay Rodriguez, Ricky Lambert and Lallana himself have contributed 37 goals between them, which is nearly twice as much as Chelsea’s strikers of Ba, Eto’o and Torres. Liverpool also depend on their partnerships in the attacking third with Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling all having fantastic seasons. In that respect, Lallana should fit in perfectly, but is on the same level or better than what Liverpool already have? Let’s have a look at the statistics against some of Liverpool’s current midfielders.
With the game being played at such pace in the modern game, it requires a real team effort in terms of attacking and defending, meaning that the players who normally ply their trade in the opposition half will need to track back and help out in their own half.
Now looking at the stats for ground and aerial duels, you can see that Lallana has the lowest percentage out of all five players. However, Lallana has been involved in the most ground duels with 420 whilst Gerrard has been in only 206, indicating why there is a large difference in percentage between the two players. Lallana’s figures for the minutes per possession lost and won are on par with the other midfielders mentioned which indicates that he has the work rate to play in a side like Liverpool’s.
Now with the players and stats provided, we’re mainly looking at the stats that concern Lallana, Sterling and Coutinho as these three players play near enough in the same position. Comparing stats against Gerrard and Henderson however is a good indication in where Lallana’s strengths lie as an all round midfielder.
The image above shows that Lallana has a better passing accuracy than both Sterling and Coutinho as well as having a better defensive, attacking and final third passing accuracy than both Liverpool players. Lallana actually is only bettered overall in the passing zone stats (the last three columns) by Jordan Henderson which is quite impressive considering the latter in predominately a central midfielder.
The creative aspects of Lallana’s game is where his strengths lie and the England international created the more chances (71) for his team-mates than any of the four Liverpool players mentioned. With a dribbling success rate of 56% from 126 attempts, it falls just short of Coutinho and Sterling but is still respectable considering the strong opposition in the Premier League.
Coutinho has the best minutes per chance created figure with 36 but the other four players are considerably close together with Lallana’s figure bettering that of Henderson’s. In terms of assists, Lallana ended the season with six to his name which was more than Sterling (Sterling played considerably fewer games) but one less than Coutinho and Henderson who had very good seasons in term of providing for their team-mates.
Lallana notched nine goals to his name which helped Southampton to many impressive wins as well as an eight place finish in the table. His goals tally was level with Sterling, who finished the season excellently, and as many as Henderson and Coutinho combined. However when you look at the minutes per goal stat Sterling and Gerrard (assisted by penalties) have bettered Lallana. Same goes for mins per goal involvement – Lallana only betters Henderson’s who’s not known for his creativity and more for his energy and work rate.
Liverpool will look at attacking midfielders who can produce around ten goals in a season to go with their creative presence in the team. In that respect Lallana has done well this season and in a team with the quality Liverpool have, you’d imagine that he would be on the end of more opportunities to score than at Southampton and maybe improve creativity in the attacking style that Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool play.
A Good Deal?
Overall, Lallana looks to suit the style of play and methodology associated with Liverpool’s football, the type of player Rodgers would like in his team. However, rumours circling around suggest that Southampton are holding out for large sum for one of their star players. Is this justified? Or would Liverpool rather look to other targets?
In my opinion, Lallana would be a good fit for Liverpool. His playing style matches that of the team and possesses the work rate and intensity needed to play week in and week out. However, with Southampton looking for a fee of around £25 million, the overall feeling is that this is too much for a player of his age. A fee of around £15-20 million would be justified but with players such as Antoine Griezmann, Nico Gaitan, Thomas Muller and even January target Yevhen Konoplyanka already mentioned as other possible targets for the summer window. We’ll see how the situation pans out in the coming weeks.
Feel free to leave your opinions on Lallana’s link to Liverpool in the comments section below.