Liverpool Hero: The Transformation of Adam Lallana

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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 31: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT)Adam Lallana of Liverpool at the end of the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on December 31, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

When Liverpool completed the signing of Adam Lallana from Southampton in the summer of 2014, questions were raised about his £25 million price tag. Although his technical ability was never in question, Lallana seemed to lack the physical and mental toughness required to achieve at the highest level.

Lallana’s first campaign with the Reds was riddled with small injury concerns. Making 27 appearances all season, the Englishman scored five goals with three assists in those games. At the start of his second season under Brendan Rodgers, Lallana continued to show potential but was unable to convert promise into key performances.

When Rodgers was replaced by Jürgen Klopp in October 2015, however, Lallana began to play at the high level many had expected from him. With his intense pressing, precision passing and the addition of goals to his game, Adam Lallana has developed into one of the best players at Liverpool and even in the Premier League.

Attacking Threat

Perhaps the league’s most improved talent, Lallana capped off a fantastic year on Saturday night when his Liverpool side defeated title rivals Manchester City. In the eighth minute of the game, Lallana led a counter attack which resulted in an assist for Georginio Wijnaldum’s goal that ultimately secured the points for his team.

Lallana’s increased attacking threat has been well-documented since the arrival of Jürgen Klopp and he has made significant leaps this campaign. No midfielder in Europe’s top five leagues has been involved in more goals this season than Lallana, who has clocked up seven assists and seven goals so far. The attacking partnership of Lallana and Brazilians Roberto Firmino and Phillipe Coutinho has also helped Liverpool become the league’s highest scorers, with 48 goals this campaign and 103 in the league since Klopp took over.

Addition of Goals 

Lallana has helped Liverpool improve their goals tally by scoring more often himself; he has netted in important match-ups against Arsenal, Leicester and Stoke City already this season. Scoring 11 goals in 2016, the 28-year-old has gone from being a promising, young player, to a clinical finisher who plays an important role in the Liverpool team.

Lallana is currently Liverpool’s second highest scorer behind Sadio Mané. The Senegalese striker is off to the Africa Cup of Nations in January, which could see the Englishman play an increased role in the team.

Lallana has not only increased his scoring output, but has also had a hand in setting up goals for his team-mates. He ended 2016 having been directly involved in 21 Premier League goals for his side, with no midfielder in the league having a hand in more.

Dirty Work  

Whilst being an agile, attacking threat, Lallana has also adapted to playing various roles in the midfield area, with some deeper than others. In these varied roles, he has become a solid defensive player for the Reds who makes key tackles and interceptions. He has recorded 31 tackles and 92 recoveries for his team so far this season, making an impact on both ends for the Reds.

Lallana’s improvement defensively has been encouraged by his ability to run and press the ball with intensity. He ran for 12.88km against City on New Year’s Eve and then ran even further against Sunderland on Monday, recording 13.22km in the process. His ability to run tirelessly has contributed to the Reds’ recent success.

Role for England

Lallana’s improvement is an encouraging sign for the national team. England manager Gareth Southgate was present during the recent victory against Stoke City and could look to make the most of his abilities in midfield.

Lallana has the ability to inject England with flare and creativity, and could establish a midfield partnership with fellow team-mate Jordan Henderson. With the England midfield already containing stars such as Dele Alli and Eric Dier, the future is looking promising and Southgate could be faced with a selection headache.

Fulfilling his promise

There is no doubt that 2016 was an improved year for Lallana. Starting to deliver on the promise he showed at a young age, he is becoming a more mature and consistent player for club and country. With his improved play, 2017 could see him justify his £25million price tag even further.

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