On the face of it and in the context of our transfer deals of recent windows, the apparently imminent signing of Rickie Lambert from Southampton for a fee variously quoted as between £4m and £9m seems laughably typical of the succession of unsuccessful deals negotiated by the much-criticised transfer committee. A 32 year old who's played his entire career at mid table or worse is hardly the kind of signing to get the pulse racing.
And yet. And yet. I've never been one to second guess potential signings before they've shown what they can do in a Red shirt (at least not in the negative; I'm often all in on the premature "He'll be boss for us" shout). Our history is littered with signings that leave you underwhelmed but turn out to be good (Sami Hyypia, Gary Mac and more) or players who're touted as being ace but fall flat rapidly (Morientes, Cheyrou, Diouf and others besides). So I generally lean towards the optimistic, but wait and see camp.
In terms of Lambert though, I think he could be a very crafty transfer for a number of reasons. First of all - and most definitely not to be sniffed at - he's a Scouser and a Red. When it's obvious that he will not be first choice, motivation other than playing every week will be important.
Another reason I like the thinking behind this deal is that he's used to playing in a team that has many parallels with ours in the way they play. They're a front foot side where there's an expectation that they close down hard from the forward line backwards. Furthermore, he could offer us an element of a Plan B (holding up the ball and/or retaining possession) without having to completely ditch Plan A to do so. A Peter Crouch option if you like - and much like Peter Crouch, he's better than people give him credit for. He's got a good touch and pass on him and his movement is clever.
So far, so good - but what about the fee? £9m or even £4m plus add ons still seems excessive for a player of his age and pedigree. However, just maybe this deal bears the first signs of an improved degree of canniness on the part of that committee. We keep hearing that Adam Lallana is going to cost £30m because his previous club are due a 25% slice of any sell on fee. However, maybe we're going heavy on Lambert to appear to go light on Lallana. We get two players we want for a reasonable combined fee that suits Southampton too as they don't have to pass on as much as they thought for a player who wants out anyway.
So in conclusion, I'll judge this deal after it's completed and the player has shown what he can do for us, but I think it has the potential to be a very clever piece of business. Let's hope so because we all know that this summer is absolutely vital for us if we're going to go one step further next season and bring back number nineteen.
I don’t think anyone saw this one coming, but after the initial shock wore off I was more than happy with the idea. I like Rickie Lambert, not only is he a good Red but he’s an impressive footballer. He’s done it the hard way too, spending most of his career in the lower leagues before hitting the big time when Southampton were promoted to the Premier League two years ago.
I didn’t expect him to do much in the top flight but he has looked at home from day one and I’ve been impressed any time I’ve seen him play. I remember writing last season that Lambert is basically a modern day John Aldridge, the main difference being he’s playing in an era in which the top sides don’t buy players like him because they can go out and pick up some foreign superstar. When Aldo was picked up by Liverpool to replace Ian Rush there were hardly any foreign players in the league and the top sides would often look to the lower leagues or smaller top flight clubs for players. If Aldo had been playing 25 years later chances are he’d never have got his dream move to Liverpool and that’s how I felt about Lambert.
Looks like I was wrong about that, if this one goes through it will be fantastic for Rickie as he had surely given up on any hope he had of pulling on the red shirt and scoring in front of the Kop. He’d bring a lot to the table in my opinion; he’s a fine footballer who creates as many goals as he scores. He’s clever, very unselfish and offers something different. His love the club can't be underplayed either, as there aren't any other players of his ability who would be prepared to be a squad player. He'll do it because it's a dream come true to play for the Reds.
It’s perhaps somewhat disrespectful to refer to him as a ‘Plan B’ as he’s much better than that, but put it this way: Against Chelsea we had to send on Iago Aspas to try and get back into the game. Perhaps if we had Lambert to call on we’d have gotten something that day?
If this goes through I hope it doesn’t spell the end for Fabio Borini, as with all the games we’ll have next season we may well need four strikers, especially as we have no idea how much the World Cup will take out of Sturridge, Suarez and Sterling.
I also can’t shake the feeling that this deal might be linked to the Lallana one. Southampton don’t want to give Bournemouth 25% of a huge fee, which may explain why we’ve been linked with Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne in recent weeks too. Maybe I’ve just got a suspicious mind, but modern football is rotten to it’s core and nothing would surprise me.
Talk about a bolt from the blue. Who saw this coming? I bet Rickie Lambert in his wildest dreams didn’t think that he’d get the chance to play for his boyhood club. I think we can all guess that Brendan got the Southampton season review DVD for his birthday as the club continues to plunder their brightest and best.
In a way I feel sorry for Southampton, what we’re seeing here is the worst side of football. They got promoted with a team built upon second chancers and academy graduates, and gained a prominent foothold in the top flight. Now they’re finding that success comes with a very high price. They lost their Chief Executive in something approaching a power struggle, they’ve lost their manager to the revolving door at White Hart Lane and they look like they’re losing the core of their team. Good luck next year, Southampton; thanks for coming.
But as for Liverpool, this is a very shrewd signing. The fee has to be right and if it’s around the £4-5million mark then that’s peanuts in today’s market. It seems that Lambert’s availability came up in discussions over Lallana (and possibly Lovren) so perhaps Southampton asked if we were interested in these fine leather jackets too.
Lambert’s signing isn’t a marquee signing, it’s very much about squad building. If you work on the assumption that Suarez and Sturridge are going to be the main men, you need people backing them up to provide rest, an alternative and cover for injury. If those two players are Lambert and Borini, then I think that’s a good set of players with a decent range of ability that provides a degree of flexibility for various scenarios.
Certainly when you compare Lambert with the player who’s already here (Aspas) then there’s no contest. Aspas was shown to be unable to cope with demands of the league and during the run-in, his only use was keeping a seat warm. Lambert is an immediate upgrade on him and that’s what the goal is during this summer, which is building a squad and team that can push on into the Champions League and still maintain a league challenge. Lambert is used to the more robust nature of the league, he’s proven he can score and make goals at this level and he’s a different type of player to the other strikers.
This is a real feel good story and it’s a piece of business that makes plenty of sense. That Lambert absolutely loves the club makes it a little bit sweeter for me. I love seeing players who have that connection with the club in the team. My only worry is that last summer we got the minor signings done early and then we waited… and waited… and waited for the big impact signings to happen, and nothing happened. Rickie Lambert would be a good addition to the squad but it’s the first team that needs upgrading too. This would be a good start to the summer’s activity but let’s hope that we don’t repeat the mistakes of last year and dither on the big signings until it’s too late. Eyes on the prize, transfer committee.