Adam Lallana's proposed summer move to Liverpool has potentially hit a snag after it was revealed that Southampton may only let their captain leave if he hands in a transfer request.
The Saints have done a fine job of holding onto their top talents in the last year or so, but The Guardian's Andy Hunter writes that Brendan Rodgers' hopes of concluding the deal before the 2014 World Cup could become a lot slimmer as a result.
Hunter quotes Rodgers' own fears over the complex nature of big-name transfers, the Reds boss admitting he would rather work hard all summer to land two quality players than several mediocre ones:
I don't want to put a figure on how many but I would rather have one or two absolute top players than seven that might not help us. It's about the quality. We can't be going into the Champions League this year with doubts about players. We have to be going in knowing what the players' capacity to play is and their capabilities.
Ideally you would want to get things done beforehand but it is difficult because transfers are so complex, especially if you are doing a big signing. The World Cup does make it difficult but the club and ourselves have been preparing for quite a few months now so we will try and get the business done as early as we can. I'm sure some of that will get dragged out during the summer, though. You can plan early but sometimes with the madness of football you will find things don't get done until the last 48 hours of the window.
That news came just days after Rodgers gave a candid yet restrained assessment, per Goal.com's Liam Twomey, of the player who set up a 1-0 winner that downed his side at Anfield back in September:
Adam is a terrific young talent and player but for us there's always speculation about top young players. I saw something on [the reports] yesterday and I'm sure you can respect that I would never mention another player at another club. It's purely speculation.
Roy Hodgson announced this week that Lallana would be one of three players based at St. Mary's Stadium travelling to the World Cup as part of his England squad—Rickie Lambert and Luke Shaw being the others—to which the midfielder reacted via the official Southampton Twitter account:
It's been a fruitful week for Lallana, too, after he was rewarded for this season's efforts with Southampton's Player of the Year award.
Hodgson couldn't help but take notice of the playmaker's form, with Squawka pointing out just one of his creative advantages that thrust him into the spotlight this term:
Lallana has been at St. Mary's for his entire professional career, having moved from Bournemouth at the age of 12 in 2000, going on to develop a bond with the south-coast outfit, which prides itself on producing homegrown gems.
As such, the requirement for a transfer request promises to add a potentially sour twist in any transfer Lallana might seek after watching Liverpool shoot into English title contention over the past nine months.
Rodgers' time in facilitating such a move is under pressure; Lallana travels with the England squad to Miami on June 1, after which negotiations will be disrupted by World Cup preparations.
Southampton's ability to barter for the most lucrative sale possible could be strengthened or weakened depending on how the player performs in Brazil.