Filling the seats on England’s plane to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup is not an easy job. Adam Lallana, however, must make that trip.
If not for the array of technical skills he possesses, he should be picked for symbolising everything that is good about the modern footballer.
Roy Hodgson’s decision to hand him his debut against Chile and a start in Tuesday night’s game with Germany (per The Guardian) suggests that the England boss holds the Saints star in high regard.
Some may say that there are risks inherent with selecting an England novice to represent the nation on the biggest stage next year. Lallana’s attributes outweigh that risk, though.
His game is so multifaceted that he has to be handed a place in England’s World Cup squad. Here’s why:
A Technically Gifted English Player? Surely Not.
Lallana really is a breath of fresh air. English players are often criticised for a lack of technical ability—with good reason, too—but Lallana is not one of them.
His footwork is dazzling and his mazy runs are very easy on the eye. What’s crucial, however, is that he has the end product to go with it.
I mean, really, football just doesn’t get better than his goal against Hull. Sit back, relax and enjoy the following GIF…
Not bad, huh?
In an England team bereft of natural attacking ability, it makes sense to pick someone with it in abundance. Adam Lallana is that man; in fact, barring Wayne Rooney he is probably the man in form this season.
WhoScored certainly think that’s the case:
And in a vibrant Southampton side, he will continue to flourish in the buildup to the World Cup. He’s a player that fills highlight reels on a regular basis, and one who could do so for England in Brazil. He just needs to be given a chance, because it’s one that he’s likely to grab with both hands.
The Complete Footballer
Lallana is, unquestionably, the embodiment of everything that is good about the modern-day footballer.
He’s made of the right stuff, which is refreshing to see.
The Saints are renowned for producing genuinely talented young players, including the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. That trio was sold; Lallana wasn’t. He’s helped the club progress through the lower leagues and into the top half of the Premier League, earning the captaincy along the way.
He’s got character.
Norwich City's Elliott Bennett believes that's the case:
Hands up: Can you imagine Lallana being thrown out of a nightclub in the early hours or snapped smoking a cigarette? No, me neither. It’s difficult to surmise what it is that makes him stand out, other than to suggest that he has the right mindset.
And that’s what you need in a World Cup squad member.
He’s not controversial and he’s not an overtly flamboyant person on or off the field. When you combine his technical ability with his character, you end up with an England international. Inexperience at the top level aside, he would be fully deserving of a spot in the England squad if he builds on his bright start to the season.
England Need a Player Like Lallana in Brazil
It’s very difficult to envisage an England squad going to Brazil without Lallana in it. I mean, can you really justify handing the likes of James Milner or Theo Walcott a place over Lallana?
No, not really.
And that’s what it all comes down to: Lallana adds a little something extra to England’s attacking options. Sure, he might not start any or all of the team’s games in Brazil, but at the very least he has to be a squad player.
That wouldn’t do him justice, though.
There’s a place for the 25-year-old in the England starting lineup, and why not hand it to him? He has his best years ahead of him for club and country. Empowering a player like Lallana is not going to backfire; he has his head screwed on.
That much was reflected in his post-match interview following his debut against Chile, with the quotes provided by ESPN:
I gave it everything and got through 75 minutes and was obviously delighted to represent my country. I am just hungry for more now. I was proud to get my first cap, but obviously disappointed with the result. We will analyse the game now and see where we can improve on in the next game, because we do not want to lose two games in a row here.
Ultimately, it’s complete and utter conjecture to predict whether Lallana will be on that plane to Brazil.
There’s still a long time to go until Hodgson selects his squad for the World Cup, and anything can happen in that time. He could suffer a dip in form or a serious injury—you just never know.
What’s not going to happen, though, is that Lallana’s character will be questioned. He may not have a Premier League or Champions League medal to boast about, but it doesn’t really matter. He’s got just about everything else going for him.
And there’s something very English about that.
That’s why, in the long run, his selection makes sense. Include him in the squad, give him a place in the starting XI, and you won’t be let down.