Adam Lallana has reflected on “learning a new sport” as a No. 6 at Liverpool, and described Brighton as a “perfect fit” as he settles back into his more natural role.
The 32-year-old joined Brighton on a free transfer at the end of July, and made his first appearance for his new club in their 1-1 draw with Chelsea in Saturday’s pre-season friendly.
He played the first half as part of Graham Potter’s midfield three, before being replaced by Alexis Mac Allister in a planned change as he works his way back to fitness.
In an interview with The Athletic following his debut, which was played in front of 2,524 fans in a test event for men’s football, Lallana explained how he looks set for a return to his favoured position at Brighton.
“At Liverpool, my best position was definitely a No. 8, being central,” he said.
“I can do a job off the side, depending on what formation the manager would like to play.
“Over the last year, I’ve played four or five games in the holding role, which was great to learn and just see the game from a different vantage point.
“It was very stimulating, learning a new position. It was almost like learning a new sport.
“Having spoken with Graham, I’ll obviously play anywhere.
“But I very much see myself playing centrally in the No. 8 role, or No. 10, although I don’t think there is a luxury 10 any more.
“Those days have gone. There is no such thing as a free role. I’m really looking forward to getting cracking.”
It seems as though Potter plans to use Lallana in midfield, but there are likely to be occasions when he is called upon out wide, as his versatility is one of the traits that made him so valuable to Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.
He arrives as a leader, and this is aided by his belief that Brighton are the “perfect fit” for him—not only in terms of their style of play, but overall as a club.
“Watching them play and how they want to play the game, it’s a perfect fit,” he continued.
“I keep saying it’s the perfect fit. It’s not just the club, the coach, the infrastructure—it’s the way that they want to play football, which is one of the most important things.”
Brighton began the Premier League campaign with a rematch of their pre-season friendly, at home to Chelsea on September 14, and Lallana is expected to start.
Given he was not relied upon as heavily as he would like in his final years at Liverpool, and effectively shoehorned into a deep-lying role to preserve his qualities despite the effects of age setting in, it is warming to hear him so positive about his future at the Amex.
Liverpool could come up against their long-serving midfielder in three months’ time, with the Reds making the trip to Falmer on November 28.