Merely a few months back, Adam Lallana’s future at Liverpool seemed relatively straightforward.
A combination of persistent injury issues and lacklustre performances seemed to make it a guarantee that the 31-year-old would depart to little fanfare upon the expiry of his contract in the summer, with a new deal making little sense for either party.
However, after rescuing us a point against Manchester United and a few excellent cameos, murmurings of a short-term deal seemed to surface; Klopp thought Lallana was too integral to lose for nothing and saw great value in a one-year deal in the summer before he moved on.
Lallana has continued to deliver great displays whenever he features, although as confirmed by Paul Joyce of The Times yesterday, it has been decided that the midfielder will move on for nothing in June when his deal runs out, with not even a one-year contract forthcoming.
In spite of really showing his value to the squad this season, ultimately the decision for Lallana not to pen fresh terms is one that is best for both parties.
You have to remember back in August, if you asked the majority of Liverpool fans, not offering Lallana a contract extension would likely be met with little qualms.
His recent years at Anfield had been plagued by niggling injuries and unlike in Klopp’s formative years at the club, he was no longer looked upon as the pressing machine that we all missed desperately when he wasn’t fit. When you think about it, apart from a brief 5 month spell or so during the 2016/17 campaign, it’s hard to think of a time when Lallana has consistently been fit and delivered on Merseyside.
Yes, he’s beginning to do that now but has already settled for a reduced role, which wasn’t what was initially expected after arriving as a £25m import from Southampton back in 2014.
Lallana should have epitomised Klopp’s style and been an ever-present cog in this Liverpool machine, not as a player who could never be relied upon either from a fitness perspective or for not always offering quality.
In no way am I saying that Lallana is a bad player; he’s far from it. Yet it’s only been recently that reaction to his name on a team sheet has gone from disdain to acceptance, which is something Lallana himself deserves credit for.
He’s maintained fitness this year and every time he’s stepped on the pitch, he’s barely put a foot wrong; his display against Wolves was excellent, he helped preserve our unbeaten run against Manchester United and led the young team with example against Everton in the FA Cup.
This could suggest there is little downside to a one-year extension, especially with his presence in the dressing room as an experienced figure clearly valued by Klopp and his peers.
But would Lallana really want to spend the twilight years of his career sitting on Liverpool’s bench? He described playing in the FA Cup against Everton as ‘babysitting’; again, as someone who likely views themselves as capable at the top level, he should be doing more than being the senior figure for a bunch of kids in an FA Cup game.
It’s also to Liverpool’s benefit if he moves on. Not only are wages of around £150k a week difficult to justify for a bit-part player, but Lallana’s presence would prevent a pathway for the likes of Curtis Jones and potentially Marko Grujic to gain the more regular playing time that they should really be receiving.
The four clubs chasing his signature are reportedly Leicester City, Arsenal, Spurs and West Ham. These are all clubs Lallana could gain regular game time for; he’d probably even be a starter under Mikel Arteta. While you never want to lose players to a direct rival, it would be a waste for Lallana to stay at Anfield when he could be getting action week-in, week-out for historically one of the best clubs in the country.
Lallana should have earnt respect from the fanbase for his efforts this year; he’s certainly altered many opinions. It’s time for him to depart Anfield with his head held high as not only a European and World Champion, but know he contributed to us finally becoming Premier League Champions.