Does Adam Lallana deserve a new contract at Liverpool?
When Jurgen Klopp arrived at Anfield, there were question marks over whether Adam Lallana would be able to adapt. When Georgino Wijnaldum arrived in the summer, there were question marks over whether the 28-year-old would be able to retain his place in the side.
Yet, under Klopp, and particularly in the opening weeks of this season, the England international has shown some of his best form in a Liverpool shirt, and that has led to speculation that the former Southampton captain will be offered a new deal at Anfield, keeping him at the club until 2020 at least.
With goals against Arsenal and Leicester City, last season’s top two, already to his name, it is clear to see why Lallana’s role has continued to grow in importance this season. Playing in a midfield three, but also acting almost as a fourth forward, interchanging with the front three at times in a fluid system, Lallana covers more ground than almost any other Premier League player on a regular basis, and thanks to Klopp, has seen his fitness levels soar as he goes from a player who struggled to have any influence towards the end of a game to one who dominates.
Often criticised for his lack of goals for an attacking midfielder, in six games this season in all competitions he has already notched two, having scored seven in 49 last campaign, adding his first England goal this month too. Continue at this rate and the midfielder would be heading for 16 goals should he make the same number of appearances, the highest return from any midfielder at Anfield since Steven Gerrard was at his peak.
Lallana also benefits from a superb relationship with his manager, who appreciates his determination and hard work which has seen him adapt to a new style of play, making up for his lack of natural pace with sheer effort. The 28-year-old has never been one to shy away from a challenge and adapting to Klopp’s style has helped Lallana to prove that he really does deserve to be playing at the top level. He has received benefits in return too, figuring far more frequently in the central role that he prefers, as opposed to being shafted out wide where he struggles to have the same influence, as Brendan Rodgers frequently did.
The question mark over a new deal will be whether or not Lallana is an option for the Reds in the long term. In 2020, should he sign a new contract and see it out, Lallana will be 32 years of age. With Lallana though, that is unlikely to be a major issue. Having avoided any major injuries for a number of years and improved on an injury prone spell on 2014/15, there is no reason to believe that he wouldn’t be fit enough, and the Bournemouth youth product has always made up for his lack of pace with his drive and footballing intelligence. Whilst he may not be the star man in 2020, he would most likely be an assured option.
It’s clear that for the Reds, tying Lallana down on a long term deal is worthwhile. The challenge for the England international will be to retain his place, with Jurgen Klopp likely to bring in more of his kind of players, likely to have youth on their side, who will threaten Lallana’s place. For now though, he is one of the most vital cogs in the Liverpool machine and has done more than enough to earn a new deal at Anfield.
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