It was an announcement that could bring a smile to even the hardest Liverpool football fans. The news of Adam Lallana’s contract extension was music to the ears of Reds fans, rewarding a player who was at the centre of the rebuild formed by Jürgen Klopp.
Ever since the 32-year-old put pen to paper for Liverpool six years ago, many have categorised him as a decent player gained from yet another raid on the Southampton squad. His initial impact on the squad was minimal, with many fearing that the £20million price tag was weighing heavily on the player’s shoulders.
One thing many people associate with first impressions is that, once fans have one of you, they’re very difficult to get rid of. Despite his stuttering start, the arrival of Klopp in 2015 was the spark that ignited Lallana’s fire in a Liverpool shirt. As the season went on the Englishman’s confidence grew, and it was evident with his consistent performances in midfield.
However, some fans were yet to be convinced.
Under the newly-appointed Klopp, Liverpool’s identity changed. Going from a possession-based side under Brendan Rodgers, a team philosophy that relied on the strengths of individuals such as Luis Suárez and Steven Gerrard, Liverpool were now known as a free-flowing, counter-attacking team who utilised their pace up front to great effect.
Therefore, Lallana had to adapt his game, something he found difficult early on. Time and again, groans would be heard from Liverpool supporters as the Englishman’s party trick Cruyff turn would all but eliminate the momentum gathered from a Liverpool counter-attack.
To some, frustration kicked in but Klopp saw past this, realising that Lallana’s ball retention in the attacking third was creating even more chances for other attacking players.
Even so, with the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané further cementing their places in Klopp’s attack, it was easy to become blind to just what Lallana brought to the team. Klopp’s decision to move him further back was instrumental in the rebuilding of his Anfield career.
The England international’s runs from midfield constantly caused the opposition problems, allowing him to control the game and become a lot more involved in attacks despite not playing as far forward. The extra midfield runners have become a feature of Klopp’s line-ups during his tenure at Anfield.
Opting for a defensive midfielder whether it be Jordan Henderson, Lucas Leiva or more recently Fabhino to sit and protect the back four, whilst also filling in for Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold should they go forward. That defensive midfielder allows the two in front of him to be extra attackers when going forward, which Lallana perfected the more he played.
The former Southampton playmaker was key during Klopp’s first two seasons, playing vital roles in Liverpool’s 2015/16 Europa League campaign and 2016/17’s fourth placed finish, securing Champions League football for the second time in eight years spanning across the 2010s.
However, during the 2017/18 campaign, a hamstring injury kept Lallana out of action for 160 days. In a period when Liverpool were playing some of their best football in recent years, this untimely injury ultimately resulted in the Englishmen going from the starting eleven, to the injury table.
Furthermore, the arrivals of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xherdan Shaqiri and most recently Takumi Minamino slide down the pecking order and all but end his Anfield career.
Despite his problems with injury, Lallana has still attracted interest from Premier League clubs, including former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers at Leicester. It was of course the Northern Irishmen that prized Lallana from the South Coast to Merseyside in 2014.
An excellent servant, Lallana was pivotal in Klopp’s reinvention of Liverpool, and here are some of his standout moments during his time at Anfield.
Norwich 4-5 Liverpool (2015/16)
In a game that had produced some high-scoring matches in previous years, usually dominated by a particular Luis Suárez, I don’t think anyone could have predicted what would happen that afternoon.
Lallana had initially started on the Liverpool bench, but replaced Jordan Ibe before the hour-mark. Just four minutes after coming on, Lallana made an immediate impact. As Liverpool chased the game at 3-2, the Englishman was sent down the left-hand side before playing the ball into the onrushing Firmino to level the game at 3-3.
He continued to make a nuisance of himself as Liverpool took the lead, only to be pegged back in injury time as Sébastien Bassong levelled the game up. However, in the dying embers, up stepped the substitute.
The ball bounced towards him on the edge of the box, before firing a left-footed shot in to the roof of the net, sparking the touchline madness and the loss of Klopp’s glasses in the process.
Liverpool 3-0 Villarreal (2016/17)
In a game that Liverpool trailed after the first leg, it needed to be one of those special European nights at Anfield if Liverpool were to progress to the final of the Europa League.
While it was less dramatic than the quarter-final win over Klopp’s former team Borussia Dortmund, the players seemed galvanised by an electric rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone before kick-off which ultimately set the tone for what was to come.
Lallana was instrumental throughout the game, becoming a pivotal figure in everything Liverpool were doing going forward. His run and pass, which allowed Firmino to slot in Daniel Sturridge to score was sublime. Albeit offside, his goal all but secured Liverpool’s passage to Basel and he was also the player fouled which resulted in Victor Ruiz’s second yellow card, whether that was intentional or not.
Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool (2019/20)
After an unbeaten start to the season, Liverpool were in search of their 18th successive league win to equal Manchester City’s top-flight record set between August and December 2017 but had to settle for a point after a scrappy encounter.
Despite the poor showing from both sides, Lallana enjoyed a sweet moment against Liverpool’s bitterest rivals. Having been plagued by injury in the seasons prior, Lallana scored his first goal in 29 Premier League appearances, last scoring against Middlesbrough in May 2017.
The goal may turn out to be his only one from this season, but it proved to the fans and his manager how important a player he is when relied upon. He took his chance well and ultimately kept the ‘Invincibles’ dream alive.
Despite not having played as much as every Liverpool fan would have wanted, Adam Lallana has never failed to play for the badge. His relentless running, moments of magic, and the occasional Cruyff turn have turned him into a fan favourite on Merseyside.
Amongst the injuries and days on the touchline, Lallana can boast three trophies during his time at Anfield with a fourth in the not-too-distant future.
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