With Adam Lallana due to leave Liverpool on the expiry of his contract next month, Everton have been named as a surprise candidate to sign the Premier League winner.
After six years and 178 appearances, Lallana will leave the Reds at the end of July following a quiet end to his time on Merseyside, punctuated by a trophy lift at Anfield.
The 32-year-old agreed to sign a short-term extension to his deal last month, but on the proviso that he would not block the progress of the likes of Curtis Jones and Takumi Minamino.
He has not been involved in a matchday squad since the Premier League‘s restart, and Jurgen Klopp explained that “we will not put any risk on his future,” with injury in these final games potentially nixing a proposed free transfer.
Lallana will have no shortage of suitors, and according to the Telegraph‘s Mike McGrath, Everton are among those hoping to sign the midfielder.
McGrath describes it as a “four-way fight” between the Blues, Burnley, Brighton and the side long-expected to secure his signature, Leicester.
Arsenal and Tottenham have also been mooted as possible candidates, but a lack of guaranteed first-team football would likely rule them out, ensuring a slight drop down from Liverpool’s standard is expected.
The chances of Lallana joining the Reds’ city rivals with other offers on the table are highly unlikely, particularly given Leicester and Burnley will finish above Carlo Ancelotti’s side this season.
But if he did, he would become the first player to move to Everton directly after his time with Liverpool since Gary Ablett in 1992.
The last to make the opposite switch was Abel Xavier in 2002, with no player moving from Anfield to Goodison Park in the Premier League era, and only 10 doing so in the two clubs’ history.
Lallana did, however, grow up an Everton fan, though in 2016 he reflected that his “memories as a fan were fighting relegation all the time” and since then he has expressed that he is “a Red now.”
In many ways, he would be a typical Blues signing, as though he still has plenty to offer his arrival would be similar to those of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Fabian Delph, Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi.
It could be argued that he would be best suited to either Burnley or Brighton, where a regular starting role should be guaranteed and he could even take up a prominent position as one of their leaders.
No deal is expected to be announced before the end of the season, with Lallana set to field a number of offers before moving on.