Liverpool are set to kick the transfer season off with a bid for Adam Lallana, before the Southampton star's valuation rockets alongside his first appearance in an international tournament, per Sky Sports News:
An article on the Sky Sports website says Brendan Rodgers is "determined" to secure the creative midfielder before he is able to showcase his skills in Brazil. Jim White, presenter for Sky Sports News, indicates the Reds will be one of many trying to purchase the 25-year-old:
Lallana has improved throughout his two seasons in the Premier League. This year, the Saints captain has racked up an impressive nine goals and six assists, including strikes against Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal, per WhoScored.com.
He is extremely versatile and can play anywhere across the midfield or alongside a centre-forward from wide positions. Lallana's natural game sees him drift across the pitch as he goes hunting for the ball, which he usually distributes with speed and precision after an incisive dribble.
It's easy to see why Rodgers is said to be interested. Liverpool's success this season has largely revolved around penetrative attacking play and the kind of confidence that ensures no opponent is feared. Individuals such as Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho have fulfilled multiple roles behind the forward line, suggesting Lallana would be deployed to do the same.
BBC Sport suggests the Southampton hero is likely to cost in the region of £20 million, a number that would surely inflate if he performs admirably at the World Cup. Manchester United are also thought to be interested, even though they already have Wayne Rooney, Shinji Kagawa, Adnan Januzaj and Juan Mata, all of whom play similar positions to the man who was voted Southampton's Player of the Season.
Speaking after he also picked up the club's goal of the season accolade for his individual effort against Hull, Lallana hinted he wishes to remain at St. Mary's, per Charlie Skillen of the Daily Mail:
"The club means the world to me. I've been here since I was 12 and I want to keep progressing with the club," said the player. "I've got a great relationship with the fans. We've been on a journey, and this is the icing on the cake."
Meanwhile, Lallana's arrival could spell the end for Fabio Borini, who has spent a successful season on loan at Sunderland. The Italian wishes to receive another chance in front of the Kop, but he suggests his future remains unresolved, per Simon Bird of the Mirror:
Liverpool need a bigger squad because you can't play four competitions with the same 11 players. But it is now down to the Liverpool point of view and their sporting director. It is not down to my words.
It depends on what Liverpool say. I can say anything definite now because anything is possible. There is a World Cup coming up so a lot depends on the national team and whether I am selected, then see what is happening.
Metro reports Rodgers will move for Barcelona's out-of-favour forward Cristian Tello, while Bild indicates Bayern Munich's Xherdan Shaqiri is also drawing interest, reported via Liam Prenderville of the Mirror. Both would fit into Rodgers' ethos of landing a potential-filled star who is currently not performing at their best.
While Lallana is one who would arrive in smart form, he's also an individual Rodgers should act quickly to secure. The player has consistently emerged as a difference maker this year and is ready to step up to Champions League football, something Liverpool can offer and United can't.
Although the Old Trafford hierarchy is sure to unleash a contract with heftier terms if a rival bid is launched, Liverpool's stint in Europe's elite competition may prove to be key.
The reported interest is deserved. Lallana's technical prowess is not typical of an Englishman, his deft touch and ability to float between opponents perhaps limited to Arsenal's Jack Wilshere away from the south coast. Lallana is the type of player who rarely appears fazed, and whose confidence remains unblemished no matter who he battles with, something we should see in Brazil.
As such, Lallana appears to be the perfect addition to Rodgers' improving Liverpool squad. Manager, club and player are progressing quickly, suggesting the potential transfer could kick-start further success for the Anfield crowd.