We have been assessing how a number of Liverpool’s key players performed in 2015/16, and Adam Lallana is the latest to go under the microscope.
It’s fair to say Lallana didn’t exactly endear himself to the Liverpool supporters in his maiden season on Merseyside.
The 28-year-old failed to justify the £25 million the Reds paid Southampton for his services in 2014, producing a string of instantly forgettable performances.
The sacking of Brendan Rodgers and arrival of Jurgen Klopp in October changed a number of players’ fortunes, however, and none benefited more from working alongside the German than Lallana.
Slowly but surely we saw glimpses of the player who shone so brightly at St Mary’s in 2013/14, and he is now a key part of Klopp’s future plans.
Adam Lallana, 2015/16
On as a substitute: 11
Unused sub: 3
Average TIA Player Rating: 6.39 (out of 10)
Average rating under Klopp: 6.50
The Klopp Factor
There was a hope that Lallana would come alive at the start of his second year at Anfield, but insipid showings away to Stoke and at home to Bournemouth, in the Reds’ opening two games, didn’t bode well.
Goals against Bordeaux and Sion in the Europa League were signs of an improvement, but the former Saints captain still found it hard to find some much-needed momentum.
Liverpool were deteriorating at a rapid rate under Rodgers, and his sacking signalled the start of a hugely exciting new era under Klopp.
Opinion was split on whether Lallana would be someone the 48-year-old persisted with or not, but he was immediately installed as a regular in the team upon his arrival.
The England international looked slick and lively in Klopp’s first few weeks as manager, with an added substance to his game coming increasingly to the fore.
Lallana was a key figure in two of Liverpool’s most impressive performances of the season, excelling in both the 3-1 win at Chelsea and 4-1 thumping of Man City 4-1 at the Etihad.
He brought a perfect blend of creativity, movement and work rate to the side, and he didn’t look out of place in the illustrious company of Brazilian duo Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino.
December and January may not have been the most memorable few months of Lallana’s season, but he continued to be an important member of Klopp’s system.
He hadn’t found the net since scoring against Sion at the start of October, though, and for all his positive attributes, a little more match-altering brilliance was required in the final third.
Best Moment Yet?
The afternoon of 23rd January was a pivotal one in Lallana’s Liverpool career. Klopp’s team travelled to Norwich, in what turned into a contender for game of the season.
With Liverpool trailing 3-1 at Carrow Road, Lallana was introduced as a second-half substitute, and his arrival completely turned the game on its head.
He had a key involvement in Firmino’s goal that made it 3-3, crossing inch-perfectly for his team-mate, before his last-gasp strike sealed an incredible 5-4 win.
The celebrations were almost as memorable as the goal, with Lallana wheeling away with his shirt off and celebrating with an ecstatic, glasses-less Klopp.
Superb After Injury
Frustratingly, Lallana’s season was again disrupted by injury – a thigh issue had seen him ruled out for part of August and September – with a calf problem ensuring he missed a fair chunk of February’s action.
He only featured as a substitute in the League Cup final defeat to Man City – he missed a penalty in the shootout – but the 28-year-old was magnificent against Manuel Pellegrini’s men three days later.
Liverpool cruised to a 3-0 win at Anfield, with Lallana involved in all three of his side’s goals, and his rich vein of form continued in both legs against Man United in the Europa League last 16.
A superb strike at home to Newcastle in April was further proof of his new-found end product, and his well-taken finish against Villarreal at Anfield helped Klopp’s men reached the Europa League final.
It was Lallana’s seventh, and last, goal of a very productive campaign.
Like many Liverpool players, Lallana’s poor display in the final defeat to Sevilla was a hugely disappointing way to end 2015/16, but his vast improvement should not be downplayed because of it.
It could certainly be argued that no player has improved more since Klopp’s arrival.
Improvements & Future Role
At 28, Lallana should now be in the peak years of his career, and he must kick on and show that he deserves to remain a key man on Merseyside.
Seven goals and seven assists is a solid return for the campaign, but it could still be bettered considering the attack-minded nature of his role.
His ability to hold onto the ball for too long can be frustrating on occasions, and a little like Coutinho, he can sometimes find himself on the periphery of matches.
He has made the right-sided role his own in Klopp’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, but he cannot afford to rest on his laurels.
Summer reinforcements could mean there is no guarantee of a regular starting berth for Lallana next season, with the potential signing of Mario Gotze adding further competitions for places.
Can Liverpool do better than Lallana? Yes, but he has easily done enough to show he belongs at Liverpool for the foreseeable future.
Best Moment: The winner against Norwich
Worst Moment: The penalty miss against Man City
2015/16 PLAYER-BY-PLAYER REVIEWS