19 Oct 2015

Boss raves: 'Unbelievable' £26m Liverpool star is one of the 'best players in England'. Delusional?

Adam Lallana: one of the most frustratingly inconsistent players in the Premier League, or bona-fide football superstar? For me, Lallana is (so far) a giant waste of money, but according to Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, the £26m attacker is one of the best players in the league.

When asked about Lallana on Friday, Pocchettino raved:

"Lallana is a great, unbelievable player, one of the best in England. Lallana can adapt his skill to different styles. For me he is one of the best players in England."

There may have been a kernel of truth to this eulogy when Lallana played under Pocchettino at Southampton, but at Liverpool, it's wild, unsubstantiated exaggeration.

Lallana is in his second season at Anfield, and he's still abjectly failing to impose himself on games. The stats speak for themselves:

* This season: no goals/assists in almost 5 hours of Premier League football.

* Only 3 chances created in 275 minutes (1 every 91 minutes).

* Contributed only 1 goal/1 assist in the last 22 hours of league football.

* Lallana's primary role is to create and score goals, but his overall record remains poor: Goal every 424 mins; Assist every 678 minutes; goal/assist every 261 mins.

Last season, Lallana had the (tenuous) excuse being injured during pre-season, but what's his excuse this year? He's an experienced player in the prime of his career, and at some point, he has to start delivering the goods on a regular basis.

West Ham attacker Dimitri Payet has contributed 9 goals/assists in 11 games in his first two months in English football, yet Lallana is still struggling after years in the Prem. Why? Mentality.

I've highlighted this several times before, but Lallana (arguably) just doesn't have the mental strength to make it at one of the biggest clubs in the world, and he proved that last season with a series of small-club mentality quotes. Examples:

* “Just being at Liverpool, the expectation is there at a bigger club, so you are expected to play better more consistently".

* "It is a big difference coming from Southampton. It is something I’m learning to deal with".

* "I always knew it was going to be difficult settling in, especially with the injury. Playing for a new club the size of Liverpool and having Champions League football - you need to be tough mentally".

* "I was so desperate to do well, maybe trying a bit too hard to impress, not doing things that I'd normally do, thinking about things maybe a bit too much".

* "You can't always expect to be at your best straight away".

Real winners Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres, and Xabi Alonso never mewled with self-doubt, they just went on the field and did the business, with 100% belief in their own ability.

It's possible that Lallana is now confident enough to take the bull by the horns, but if he struggled with the transition at the age of 26, it's doubtful that anything will have changed after another year. That said, if Jurgen Klopp works his man-management magic, it's possible Lallana may finally start to realise his potential.

If Lallana plays regularly, fans should (IMO) expect him to weigh-in with a bare minimum of 20 goals/assists in all competitions. Given his age and experience, that is not an unreasonable expectation.

Author: Jaimie K


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