Liverpool have confirmed the signing of England international Rickie Lambert.
Lambert, 32, arrives from Southampton – for a reported £4m fee on a two-year contract.
The transfer completes an incredible return for Lambert to his boyhood and hometown club, from which he was released as a 15-year-old hopeful back in 1997.
Born in Kirkby, Lambert’s journey to Anfield has seen him released from Blackpool, picked up by Macclesfield, then Stockport, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers, before signing for Southampton in 2009.
It’s at Southampton that Lambert has flourished, a key part of the team which won back to back promotions from League One to the Premier League – named The Championship’s player of the year in 2011.
He’s scored 28 Premier League goals in his two seasons in the top flight, earning himself a place in the England squad for this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
On his move back to Merseyside, Lambert told the club’s official website, “I can’t believe it. I’ve loved this club all my life. I left here 17 years ago – and I haven’t stopped loving it since.
“I have always dreamt of playing for Liverpool, but I did kind of think the chance of playing for them had gone. I didn’t think the chance would come.
“I know how big Liverpool are – and it means everything to me – but I know what is important; I know it’s what I do on the pitch and the minutes I play. I know that’s what matters, and that’s what I’ll be focused on.”
Lambert was an unused sub for England’s warm-up game against Peru on Friday but is expected to play a part in Wednesday’s match against Ecuador in Miami.
Lambert will no doubt act as a back-up striker to the likes of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, with the futures of forwards Iago Aspas and Fabio Borini unclear.
His former Southampton teammate Adam Lallana is the subject of another bid by Liverpool, but the move hit complications over the weekend.
Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno is said to be close to a move to Liverpool, with a fee of around £16 million being reported in the Spanish media.
Welcome (back) to Liverpool, Rickie.