By Dave Davis – @DaveD0106
Rewind to Friday January 5: all eyes are on Virgil van Dijk as his bullet header gives Liverpool a famous win over neighbours Everton.
One thing that most have likely forgotten is that it was the last time Adam Lallana contributed a goal or assist for Liverpool – his flick saw Mason Holgate handle and James Milner smashed home the subsequent penalty.
The fact it wasn’t even what most people remember Holgate for is telling. Lallana’s absence from the Napoli match isn’t much of a surprise to anyone, yet the impact shouldn’t be over-estimated.
The 2017/18 campaign proved as disastrous for the 30-year old as could be. Lallana managed a sum total of 519 minutes for the entire campaign and despite initial hope through extended performances against Burnley and Everton, injury continued to plague him.
In the run to the Champions League Final in Kiev, Lallana’s sole contribution proved a full game in the 0-0 Round of 16 second-leg against Porto, a dead rubber by all accounts.
As the evolution of Jurgen Klopp’s side continued, the importance of the former-Southampton man to the team dwindled with every subsequent game.
During the season before, there had been hope that the England international was on his way to becoming a real force at Anfield as a more than respectable eight goals and seven assists were notched.
That 2016/17 campaign seems a lifetime ago now though as Liverpool’s midfield looks simply unrecognisable compared to that of just two years-ago.
Fabinho and Naby Keita will provide elements that were lacking, while Henderson appears to have grasped his captains role. Milner’s assist record in the Champions League was incredible and Wijnaldum’s cameos proved crucial at times. That’s before discussing Jones, Camacho or the eventual return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Additionally, Lallana may have been seen as a creative option who could make an impact or do something different, to put it crudely. This summer’s purchases and squad changes appear to make that option less likely.
Shaqiri initially appeared to have been brought into cover the front three, a job Lallana had been used for on occasions. Klopp has intimated that he maybe used in an attacking midfield role, which won’t increase Lallana’s chances.
Daniel Sturridge’s return and early pre-season form appear likely to push the former-Bournemouth apprentice even further down a bloated pecking order too.
The Englishman is a popular man within the squad, most notably with the skipper. Players who are continually injured can’t be relied upon though and while he may be one of the squad’s more technically gifted players, Liverpool’s evolution has continued largely without him.
Lallana may-well play some part in this campaign, but you’ll do well to find many Reds who believe he’ll have a major influence on results. The injury is no surprise, but the importance of a man who was once key figure at Liverpool is no-longer was it once was.