Liverpool have officially confirmed the signing of Rickie Lambert from Southampton.
The England international finalised his move today after completing a medical on Merseyside over the weekend. Liverpool confirmed the deal through their official Twitter account:
The Reds will pay a reported fee of £4 million plus add-ons for the 32-year-old, per BBC Sport, completing a dream move to the club he supported growing up:
Lambert—who scored 13 Premier League goals last season, per WhoScored.com—will bring even more firepower to a squad that scored over 100 goals in the top flight last season.
A move to Liverpool is a genuine fairy tale for a player who made it to the Premier League with Southampton and learned his trade in the lower echelons of the football league.
Now, just five years after playing for Bristol Rovers in the third tier of English football, Lambert has the opportunity to ply his trade in the Champions League and compete for major honours at the club he has always adored.
Liverpool released a statement on their official website to announce the signing, in which Lambert reaffirmed his adulation for the Reds:
I can't believe it. I've loved this club all my life. I left here 17 years ago - and I haven't stopped loving it since.
I have always dreamt of playing for Liverpool, but I did kind of think the chance of playing for them had gone. I didn't think the chance would come.
I know how big Liverpool are - and it means everything to me - but I know what is important; I know it's what I do on the pitch and the minutes I play. I know that's what matters, and that's what I'll be focused on.
In a classy touch from the 32-year-old, he also penned a letter to the supporters of his former club Southampton, where he spent five years, scoring 117 goals in 235 appearances. Saints posted the farewell on their official website:
Thank you to all the staff involved in making me the player I am today. Without your knowledge and commitment I would not be here right now at a World Cup with England.
Thank you to all the players, past and present, who I have had nothing but good times and success with driven by our club captain, Kelvin Davis. I love every last one of you.
Thank you to the managers I have worked with – Alan, Nigel and Mauricio – and their teams for helping me and Southampton step up and adapt to every challenge that has come our way the past five years.
When I grew up there was only one club I loved. I can honestly say now I have two clubs which will always be in my heart and that is thanks to the Saints fans. The people who support this club have been nothing short of amazing towards me and, when I look back in years to come, it will be the relationship I had with the fans here which will stand out the most.
Lambert will surely leave the south coast with the well wishes of every Southampton supporter. As Tony Barrett of The Times touches upon here, it’s always good to see a deal conducted in such a professional and amicable manner:
Southampton's adieu to Rickie Lambert is very classy & gracious. Always good to see a move take place without any recriminations.— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) June 2, 2014
Lambert and Southampton have been a wonderful marriage. But with Mauricio Pochettino and their talisman both gone, not to mention speculation rife about a host of their players leaving—including skipper Adam Lallana, who has been subject of a reported final £25 million offer from Liverpool, per James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo—all of the good work done by Saints is in danger of unravelling.
Southampton posted a statement on their official website confirming that, while they have received “multiple offers for their players,” they will not be conducting any more transfer business until after they have appointed a new manager.
The statement admitted, however, that they could not stand in the way of Lambert’s move back to his boyhood club, where he’ll be looking to spearhead another title charge for Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool team.
The Reds’ boss was naturally delighted about his new acquisition, per LiverpoolFC.com:
It's only late on in his career - at 29, 30, 31 - that people are really starting to focus on his qualities. He was probably seen as the traditional big No.9, a British striker that is good in the air.
But he's one of the most accomplished footballers I've seen. It has been so refreshing that he's got his call into the England team, and he certainly hasn't let anyone down - he has been outstanding.
Look at his touch, look at the level of his goals, the different types of goals he has scored over his career, and he's a specialist on penalties as well.
Lambert—while likely to be third in the forward pecking order behind Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge—will offer Liverpool a fascinating new attacking edge. As Rodgers touched upon, Lambert is a well-rounded player with a plethora of attributes that will make this Liverpool forward line even more fearsome.
Questions have been raised about his age, but Lambert will not be playing week in and week out for the Reds. Plus, when he dons that red shirt for the first time and runs out at Anfield, he'll feel like a kid all over again. For a lad from Liverpool, after all the feats Lambert has accomplished against the odds in his career, nothing will best this moment.