Adam Lallana will reportedly leave Liverpool this summer but the Reds already have an ideal replacement in Curtis Jones.
The Independent claimed on Monday that the club expects Lallana to leave at the end of the season. It would bring a six-year spell at Anfield to an end, one with plenty of ups and downs.
Lallana arrived at Liverpool in 2014 for a reported £25m fee from Southampton. It was a difficult first season, though, as the whole team played badly in a disjointed season.
It wasn’t really until late 2015 that things picked up. Lallana thrived under new manager Jurgen Klopp as he found a perfect place in the high-intensity pressing.
That proved to be Lallana’s forte under Klopp. No one, quite honestly, has ever been quite as good at it. But after a great season in 2016/17, injuries derailed the Englishman’s Liverpool career.
He’s never hit the required heights again, seemingly picking up another injury every time he’s about to reach them. And thus his place in the squad is a strange one.
Lallana is quite far down the pecking order in midfield now. There’s little belief that the team can rely on him and he’s a full-on squad member.
But at the same time, he’s a useful ball-carrier, able to make use of tight spaces like few in the team can. It makes him difficult to replace. How do you find someone with a specific skillset who will also be a complete squad player?
Fortunately, Liverpool have the ideal Lallana replacement in Jones. The teenager has demonstrated similar skill to Lallana already. He can press, he can lead from the front, and he’s got fantastic footwork.
On top of that, he’s far more likely to put up with a squad role, given his age and fondness for the club. The glimpses we’ve seen this season suggest he’s ready to step up into that role, too. It’s perfect, really.
Lallana’s departure will take something away from the squad. But in Jones, Liverpool can just simply transition into a new era in midfield.