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Liverpool striker made ‘stupid mistake’ at start of pre-season that ruined dream transfer on very first day



Liverpool striker made ‘stupid mistake’ at start of pre-season that ruined dream transfer on very first day

Rickie Lambert joined Liverpool eight years ago this week before one disappointing season with the club

As you’re reading this article, there’s every chance that you would absolutely love to play for Liverpool.

But relatively few people get to play football professionally at all, never mind for the team who they have supported for all their life. Still, it’d be a dream if it ever happened, wouldn’t it?

It might feel that way at first, but there are no guarantees that it would work out, and if the club in question happens to represent your home town too, the pressure to succeed would only increase further.

This is how it worked out for Rickie Lambert, who joined Liverpool eight years ago today and ended up spending only one season with the club.

In what became thought of as the summer of Southampton, Lambert was the first of the trio of Saints players who signed for the Reds in 2014.

While he might have seemed an unusual striker for the club to have bought, particularly in the transfer window in which they lost Luis Suarez to Barcelona, the England international had proven his Premier League pedigree over the previous two seasons.

It’s reasonably rare for a player to hit double figures for both goals and assists in a single campaign in England’s top flight – it has only occurred less than 40 times in the last 12 years.

If you exclude penalties for the sake of argument, then the number of men who have reached the benchmark obviously drops lower, and in 2013/14 there were just three: Suarez, Wayne Rooney and Lambert.

However, if the latter’s time at Liverpool proved anything, it’s the importance of utilising a new player properly and allowing them to play to their strengths.

It isn’t as simple as plugging them into their usual spot in the same formation either. When Brendan Rodgers did start Lambert (which only happened 12 times) it was usually as the front man in a 4-2-3-1 set up, just as he’d been at Southampton. The issue was with what the Reds’ manager asked him to do from there.

Lambert was the master of a through ball, those passes which slice between the opposition’s defensive back line and allow a teammate a clean run in on goal.

In 2012/13, the Southampton man had played 68 through balls, the most of any player in the Premier League, and they had in part helped him to create 12 clear-cut chances, the joint-ninth most that season.

While his numbers dropped on the through ball front in his final year on the south coast – though he was still sixth in the standings – his clear-cut chance tally went up by one and only Suarez laid on more golden opportunities for teammates that term.

But Liverpool had another through ball master in the form of Philippe Coutinho, and it was he who played them most frequently for Liverpool in 2014/15.

Compared to his time with the Saints, Lambert touched the ball less overall but slightly more often in the box and it just did not work for him. He didn’t play a single through ball either – from top of the pile two seasons earlier to rock bottom with the Reds.

And it didn’t help him in chasing those Coutinho passes that he was not by his own admission fit enough, thanks to an error he made in the summer of 2014.


Liverpool has two perfect defensive options after Jürgen Klopp sorts out midfield transfers

Liverpool needs to sign at least two midfielders this summer, but there is also a need for another defender to bolster Jürgen Klopp’s squad, with Joël Matip out of contract in 2024 and defensive issues having caused concerns during the previous season.

There are several options that Liverpool has been linked with a move for this summer, with the Reds needing to sort that area of the team out before it becomes a bigger and even more plaguing issue.

Which way should Liverpool lean with its preference, though? There are reasons to target either a left-sided or right-sided player, or someone who is a less versatile player who only plays in the middle.

READ MORE: Sadio Mané may seal surprise transfer amid Liverpool claim as Real Madrid has Kylian Mbappé plan

READ MORE: Lionel Messi ‘accepts’ $1.2bn offer as Chelsea could beat Liverpool to transfer

What should Liverpool do? Two of our writers have had their say on a couple of different possible options for once the midfield is sorted out, and you can add yours in the comments section below the article.

“Jurriën Timber is a perfect option” – Matt Addison

Liverpool needs a player with a high enough ceiling to become a first-choice center-back at some point in the future, who can come in and hit the ground running now, and who can also play at full-back.

There is no need to look any further than Ajax defender Jurriën Timber, then, who Liverpool, according to Sky Germany (back in March), is keeping an eye on ahead of the summer.

The young defender has already confirmed to De Telegraaf that he is set to leave this summer, with a transfer ‘closer and closer’ to being completed, and with a price tag of around $54m (£43m/€50m), he would be within range.

Timber is ready for the next step and Liverpool would be a good step up for him, where he could play a couple of different roles and become a big helping hand for Ibrahima Konaté.

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“Micky van de Ven makes sense for Jörg Schmadtke” – Ben Bocsak

Liverpool needs a center-back this summer who can play on the left. There are plenty of center-backs at the club who are capable of playing on the right, and both Joe Gomez and Konaté are suited to that position even in Trent Alexander-Arnold’s new role. However, there aren’t any players in the squad who can play behind Virgil Van Dijk in the left-sided center-back position.

Van de Ven thus makes the most sense. Comfortable on the ball and relatively quick as a back-up option he ticks all the boxes for Liverpool (as we wrote about on earlier this week) in terms of his ball-playing ability and long passes as well as his towering height he is very similar to Van Dijk.

Only 22 years old, he’s still extremely young as a center-back and while he is on a long-term contract at Wolfsburg the fact that Schmadtke, the man who brought him to the German club, is now Liverpool’s sporting director could help to make this deal happen.

For the right price, Van de Ven is a no-brainer.

Which writer do you agree with? Have your say in the comments box below.

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