Xherdan Shaqiri is sparkling but that doesn’t mean Adam Lallana’s flame is flickering out… fit-again Liverpool man is ready to show why Jurgen Klopp and Co all love having him in their team
- Some Liverpool fans believe they are better off without Adam Lallana in the XI
- Xherdan Shaqiri has impressed but a fit Lallana still has plenty to offer the Reds
- Gareth Southgate wanted him at the World Cup and Jurgen Klopp admires him
- Everton must look to sign a new striker in January if Cenk Tosun fails to impress
- Loris Karius will not be returning to Anfield early from Besiktas despite reports
In the final days before he named his squad for Russia, one player kept popping into Gareth Southgate’s head more than anyone else: Adam Lallana.
England’s manager was desperate to have the Liverpool midfielder in his final 23 and had been in contact with the club’s medical staff – and the player himself – to get regular updates. If he had been fully fit, Lallana would have been a certainty to make the cut.
With a full summer of conditioning work under his belt, Lallana was immediately brought back into Southgate’s group for the first international games of the season against Spain and Switzerland. He would have been heavily involved had a groin issue, sustained at St George’s Park, not stopped him in his tracks.
Some fans have turned on Adam Lallana on social media but he is just finding his rhythm again
Now that his season is properly up and running, following three appearances for Liverpool in the space of a week, Southgate will once again be thinking of Lallana and looking to include him in the November internationals against the United States and Croatia.
All of which begs this question: if Southgate is excited about having Lallana available – and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is delighted the 30-year-old is getting back into the groove – why is there a segment of supporters who want him ushered into the shadows?
The clamour has been particularly apparent since Saturday’s dismissal of Cardiff. Lallana made way for Xherdan Shaqiri in the 61st minute and the new crowd favourite’s introduction coincided with Liverpool moving through the gears and recording an emphatic final score.
Lallana, pictured in action for England in March, would have gone to the World Cup if he was fit
Shaqiri’s impact over the last few weeks has been impressive and Sportsmail columnist Peter Crouch explained on the morning of the Cardiff game why the Swiss is going to be a potent weapon.
But just because Shaqiri is sparkling does not mean Lallana’s flame is flickering out. When terms such as ‘yesterday’s man’, ‘team has moved past him’, ‘wasn’t good enough in the first place’ are punched onto social media on the back of one performance it is hugely disrespectful.
The past 15 months for Lallana, mainly, have been a nightmare. The thigh injury that forced him to miss the first four months of last season was awful, as was the hamstring issue – sustained at Crystal Palace in March – that effectively stopped him going to the World Cup.
Each time, however, he has worked relentlessly to get back into the best possible shape. He is approaching it again now but the only thing that will help him get to the next phase is playing games; that is when the rhythm will come.
Xherdan Shaqiri has impressed but his form should not mean Lallana is pushed to one side
You cannot underestimate what impact the constant cycle of stopping-rehabilitating-starting has on a player whose game is based on a foundation of aggression and pressing; it is not something that can just be switched on and off like a light.
Those who believe Liverpool would be better off with Lallana being moved on should also remember these figures: the win percentage and average goals per game increase with him in the team.
This is not someone who holds the team back and the ovation he received from the away end at Huddersfield on October 20 reflected the affection of many for Lallana.
There is also something else to consider: managers keep picking him. Whether it is Klopp or Southgate, Brendan Rodgers, Roy Hodgson or Mauricio Pochettino; they all recognise the worth that Lallana brings to their teams.
Jurgen Klopp is a big fan of Lallana’s style and missed the midfielder during his time out injured
‘I’m not going to blow smoke up my own a***,’ Lallana said in an interview with Sportsmail in August 2016. ‘I don’t concentrate on what people think I’m not doing. Managers wouldn’t have me in their team if I wasn’t doing what they wanted. This one (Klopp) certainly wouldn’t.’
Since Klopp became Liverpool manager, Lallana has increased the distance he covers in matches from 11.8km to 12.7km; just because he is into his thirties and has suffered with fitness problems does not mean his best days are gone.
If the season pans out as Klopp hopes, Liverpool could end up playing around 60 games. For the season to reach a successful conclusion, he needs high-calibre options and that is what Lallana is. He knows it. Southgate knows it. You would hope the vast majority know it too.
Returning from Old Trafford on Sunday, it became even more apparent that Everton’s business in January must focus on finding a new striker.
Playing Manchester United away from home used to be the most formidable challenge of the campaign but the sterile atmosphere and lack of direction in the home team presented Everton with a glorious opportunity. With a potent attacker, they would have done considerable damage.
It is understandable why head coach Marco Silva has deployed Richarlison in the role recently but the young Brazilian still needs guidance. The position in which he will thrive at the moment is coming in from the left, where he can utilise his skill, speed and strength.
Everton boss Marco Silva has used Richarlison has a central striker during recent fixtures
Marcel Brands, Everton’s savvy director of football, will be working already on potential targets – it would be a shock if he was not considering PSV Eindhoven’s exciting Mexico international Hirving Lozano – and he will know better than anyone the need to put this right.
Until then, though, will Cenk Tosun be given an opportunity until Christmas? With the right kind of service, the Turkey international could thrive and it was interesting to hear Silva address rumours last week that Tosun is wanted by clubs in his native land.
‘Cenk is happy,’ said Silva. ‘He is happy and is working to help the team. Some moments when you don’t start one game can be more important. Cenk in the last two games at home scored twice and he didn’t start the match.’
A third goal in three home games would make his claims for regular starts even more compelling.
Cenk Tosun came off the bench to score Everton’s second goal in a win over Crystal Palace
MOMENT OF THE WEEK
Loris Karius continues to be a much-debated topic on Merseyside and reports in Turkey this week suggested Besiktas want to send him back to Liverpool, with the hope of taking striker Divock Origi in January instead.
The German goalkeeper has taken to Instagram to address the speculation – ‘bull****’ was his colourful phrase of choice – and just to add confirmation there is no way Besiktas can just send Karius back.
They signed a two-year loan deal. He is their player until 2020.
Loris Karius has hit back at reports that his two-year loan at Besiktas could be cut short
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