Adam Lallana and Fluid Football

When Liverpool paid upwards of £35 million for Sadio Mané this summer, an audible groan could be heard from Liverpool fans and the phrase “Another one from Southamption?” was muttered over and over.

Indeed, since the summer of 2014, Liverpool have purchased no fewer than five players from the Saints on the south coast for a total value of just under £100 million. You forgot about Ricky Lambert, didn’t you?

Southampton have put together really competitive teams the last few seasons and even finished ahead of Liverpool in the Prem last year and two points behind the Reds the season before. So why the bad attitude towards players who once called Saint Mary’s Stadium home?

Leave Ricky Lambert out of this; his move was a rather odd one and he was never expected to be a contributing member of the starting XI.

After a slow start, Dejan Lovren looks to have established himself as first-choice center-back in Jürgen Klopps defense, and many fans are happy with his contributions from last season.

Nathaniel Clyne made more than 50 appearances for Liverpool last season, his first at the club. FIFTY. In one season. Anyone would be hard pressed to find a player who can match the consistent quality Clyne delivers on a weekly basis.

That leaves Adam Lallana. The childhood Everton fan who developed at the famed Saints Academy arrived at Melwood in July of 2014 for a fee of around £25 million. He missed the first few games of the 2014-15 season with a knee injury, and was thrust directly into the role of attacking winger, often on the right side by Brendan Rodgers.

Lallana drew the ire of many Liverpool fans thanks to his lackluster goal return, despite the fact that his goals/game average in the Premier League had been virtually the same at Liverpool as it was at Southampton.

For many fans, the arrival of Mané meant that Lallana would be dropped to the bench and could be sold the next time the Reds received an offer that matched their valuation of him. Shockingly, the exact opposite has occurred.

Lallana has been dropped, but not from the team. He’s been dropped into the middle of a midfield three; perhaps the best tactical decision Klopp has made in his tenure at Liverpool.

After the much anticipated “first preseason” with the German, Lallana finds himself the lynchpin of Klopp’s fluid pressing system and is perhaps the first name on the team sheet every week.

In a team that leads the league every week in distance covered, Lallana is consistently at the top of the list. His ability to keep and pass the ball has been vital to Liverpool’s offense this season. And perhaps most importantly, Lallana has been involved in the goals.

In six Premier League games this season, Liverpool have scored 11 goals from open play. Lallana is joint-team leader with three goals and the team leader with three assists. Nobody has been more influential in finding the net. Not Philippe Coutinho, not Roberto Firmino, not Daniel Sturridge.

Lallana is the embodiment of Klopp’s fluid football. He is the shuttling box-to-box midfielder that leads the press, the creative, visionary number 10, and the ruthless scorer capable of finding the net in 100 different ways all wrapped into one.

One of the biggest scapegoats from the Liverpool squad that finished last season in 8th place has become one of its most important pieces. And so far this year, as Lallana goes, Liverpool goes.