Adam Lallana’s Transformation Under Jurgen Klopp

Adam Lallana’s Transformation Under Jurgen Klopp
Sep 14, 2016

Featured Liverpool

On the back of the news that Adam Lallana is set to be rewarded for his fine form with a new contract at Liverpool, let’s take a look at the changes Lallana has made to his game since Klopp’s arrival last October and how he’s developed into one of the Reds’ most important players.

Go back a year. Adam Lallana is in an underperforming Brendan Rodgers Liverpool side and is contributing very little. After 4 Premier League games last year, playing on the wing remember, Lallana had 0 goals, 0 assists and wasn’t using his skills and fast feet to full effect, instead just performing a trick whenever the opportunity presented itself and slowing down play. He was frustrating to watch as everybody knows what he has in his locker, but his best just wasn’t coming. It got to a point where, after a disappointing first season on Merseyside, his £20 million transfer from Southampton looked to be another big money failure for Liverpool and fans were wanting him out the team and some even believed he may as well just leave the club.

Then, Jurgen Klopp arrived. The German came with a new style of football, new ideas on how it should be played and new roles for the players. The one that Adam Lallana found himself in happened to be a turning point for him. No longer were his performances just judged by end product, although that is still important, but by his work rate and running too. Lallana was expected to initiate the pressing of the opposition, to put pressure on them and rush them, to lead from the front and set the tempo. Straight away it was obvious that Lallana had bought into this role and understood what he had to do. It showed in his performances, he flourished, perhaps because he had a clear importance in the side now rather than just being a talented, creative player being wasted whilst stuck out on the wing. Less than a year after Klopp took the job, Lallana has cemented himself as a starter and looks to be a favourite of the manager, playing almost every game and becoming a vital part of the Liverpool system.

Straight away it was obvious that Lallana had bought into this role and understood what he had to do. It showed in his performances, he flourished, perhaps because he had a clear importance in the side now rather than just being a talented, creative player being wasted whilst stuck out on the wing. Less than a year after Klopp took the job, Lallana has cemented himself as a starter and looks to be a favourite of the manager, playing almost every game and becoming a vital part of the Liverpool system.

Making his new role work didn’t just happen for the England international, though. He had to work, and work hard. Especially on his fitness. Under Rodgers, Lallana was regularly taken off around the 60 or 70-minute mark, looking very tired. He simply didn’t have it in his legs to do more, which when Klopp first came in is what many people thought would be his stumbling point, the fact he didn’t have the energy to continuously run and play to a high level for 90 minutes, at least not every week anyway, which would not have suited Klopp’s requirements for what he wants in a player. But, his new managers more strenuous training programme has paid off for him. His fitness has slowly but surely built up over the past 11 months and is now not only completing games, but setting records for distance covered in a game (which he has set twice this season, currently at 13.1km in 90 minutes) and even looking as though he could do more. Not bad for a player who basically collapsed into Klopp’s arms in exhaustion after 80 minutes during his first game in charge at Tottenham last October.

But, his new manager’s more strenuous training programme has paid off for him. His fitness has slowly but surely built up over the past 11 months and is now not only completing games, but setting records for distance covered in a game (which he has set twice this season, currently at 13.1km in 90 minutes) and even looking as though he could do more. Not bad for a player who basically collapsed into Klopp’s arms in exhaustion after 80 minutes during his first game in charge at Tottenham last October.

As if all this change for Lallana last season wasn’t enough, his role has changed again in the early parts of 2016/17 too. He has been pushed back from his usual advanced position on the right to Central Midfield. In the middle of the park, it looks as though he’s been asked to use his new stamina to add to the energy to the midfield alongside Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum, getting up and down field so he can contribute to the defensive side of things too, but mainly acting as a gateway between defence and attack.

Often this season Lallana has received the ball from the centre back or a fullback and using his fast feet and attacking knowledge, has turned into space quickly and has been able to start an attack, whether that’s through getting the ball out wide, driving forward or playing a through ball between the opposition. This makes the whole process of getting an attack going a lot quicker and it puts the other team on the back foot, making Liverpool a much more dangerous team. Again, Lallana has done very well to adapt to another new role and look so comfortable there, especially so early on in the season.

Having him in midfield also means Liverpool have more of an attack minded midfield too. Over recent years, the Reds’ midfielders have not brought enough in terms of goals or even just getting into the right areas, but as Lallana has spent so many years in the forward positions he instinctively wants to push on and give his team an extra option as they attack. That shows with what he has done in his opening 4 Premier League games.

in the 4-3 win over Arsenal, he came from deep to slot in Wijnaldum’s cross for the second goal and then assisted Mane for the fourth. He also found the net over the weekend, scoring Liverpool’s third against Leicester. After getting forward again, he was fed by midfield partner Wijnaldum once more before lashing a shot into the top left corner. That’s 3 contributions from him in 4 games, a great start from a player who has received so much criticism for not giving enough in that aspect of the game. If he carries this form on, then there is every chance that he could match or even surpass his 2013/14 tally of 9 goals and 8 assists with Southampton which got him the move to Anfield, and could also become the source of midfield goals Liverpool have needed so badly.

All of this has won many fans over. His hard work and commitment to the cause has been clear for them to see, and as it always is with Liverpool fans, they take warmly to players who make the effort and show they want to succeed. Of course, there are still some who aren’t convinced by Lallana, but that number has definitely decreased compared to last year, as is evident with the mostly positive reaction to him getting a new deal with the club.

One thing is for sure though, Lallana deserves a lot of credit for coping so well with the changes his game has undergone in the past year. From a player who was known for silky skills and clever feet in attacking areas to a workhorse who will run for 90 minutes, get involved in defence and attack and switch between very different positions and responsibilities, depending on what the manager wants from him. To do all that in the time he has, and look so assured in himself and his abilities to do it, then it’s fair to say, Adam Lallana has earned his new deal.

 

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