26-year-old Adam Lallana is expected to officially become a Liverpool player on Monday, completing a big-money move from former club Southampton. Henry Jackson (@OnFootballTweet) takes a look back at the development of his career so far.
This is a major step in the career of Lallana, who has steadily grown in stature since the turn of the century.
Born in St Albans on 10th May 1988, Southampton snapped him up as a 12-year-old in 2000, having impressed at Bouremouth’s School of Excellence. It was the start of a 14-year love affair with the south coast club, in which he has gone on to gain arguably legendary status.
By the mid 00s, Lallana was part of an excellent Saints Youth Team also including current stars Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott. They reached the semi-final and final of the FA Youth Cup in 2004/05 and 2005/06, respectively.
The classy midfielder made his senior debut in August 2006, in a league cup tie against Yeovil, and because he was still just a fringe player over the next season or two- he spent a brief spell back at Bournemouth on loan in 2007- he didn’t score his first goal until late in the 2007/08 campaign.
2008/09 would prove to be Lallana’s breakthrough season, with the then 20-year-old making 43 appearances in all competitions. Despite this, the Saints were relegated from the Championship to League 1.
In the two years they spent in England’s third tier, Lallana flourished greatly. He scored 23 league goals in that time, and was named in the League 1 Team of the Year in 2010/11. His performances served as a catalyst to Southampton returning to the Championship that year.
Another superb season for both Lallana and Southampton in 2011/12- he was named in the Team of the Year for the second successive season- saw Nigel Adkins’ side return to the Premier League for the first time since 2005. Lallana was also given the honour of being made club captain in 2012.
A solid, if relatively unspectacular, first season in the Premier League for Lallana saw him score three times in 30 appearances, with his first top-flight goal coming in a loss at West Ham. He signed a new deal at St. Mary’s in April 2013.
Last season was to be the year Lallana’s game went up several notches. He was absolutely outstanding from start to finish, perhaps benefiting from the management of Mauricio Pochettino, scoring nine times and providing seven assists.
His dribbling, creativity and eye for goal were often a joy to watch, and he was nominated for the prestigious PFA Player of the Year alongside world-class talents like Luis Suarez, Yaya Toure and Eden Hazard.
The displays also didn’t go unnoticed by England boss Roy Hodgson, who gave Lallana his international debut in a defeat to Chile at Wembley in November 2013. He had previously represented England’s Under-18s, Under-19s and Under-21s too.
He was subsequently named in the Three Lions’ 23-man squad for the 2014 World Cup, although like almost everyone associated with England in Brazil, he failed to make an impact.
At 26-years-old, Lallana is a late bloomer in many ways. When you look at his former youth team colleagues Walcott and Bale, both are now extremely established footballers despite being a year his junior.
Players develop at different speeds, and Lallana is someone who taken a little longer to fulfil his huge potential than some. It could be argued that those years in League 1 may actually have aided his development, compared to if he’d gone to a big club and failed to nail down regular football in his early 20s.
How Rodgers decides to use him next season remains to be seen, but Liverpool have got a real gem on their hands. His versatility is a huge plus point- he can play in central midfield, attacking midfield or on either flank- and he will flourish around superior players and a fantastic young manager.
The first chapter of Adam Lallana‘s career has been a hugely impressive one, but there is every chance the new one will be even better.
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