Liverpool's hopes of signing Adam Lallana may have suffered a blow after Southampton chief executive Les Reed told the Englishman he owes the St. Mary's club "a little bit longer."
Reed never needs a second chance to express his feelings and is refreshingly honest when offering his assessment of a situation that could see his captain head to Merseyside. He also provided a stark warning for Brendan Rodgers, who cannot expect to capture Lallana on the cheap, reported by BBC South Today and via ESPN FC:
Lallana's been here long enough, we've brought him to this level and we feel that perhaps he should give it a little bit longer.
Anybody seriously considering coming for our players is going to have to think very significantly about the size of the fee. If we do take money it will be because it's the right amount and it enables us to improve the team and move forward.
Liverpool previously offered £25 million for the midfielder, reported by Ben Smith of BBC Sport. Reed's comments are likely to add to a growing sense of disinterest from the Anfield club, who are being forced to work extremely hard for Lallana's signature.
Simon Jones of the Daily Mail believes Bayern Munich's Xherdan Shaqiri is now being pursued instead. Jones writes "Liverpool have opened preliminary talks" with the German champions for a £16 million transfer that would see the 22-year-old Swiss star head to England. Such negotiations are said to have begun after Rodgers became "impatient" with the ongoing Lallana saga.
While the Southampton man offers control, balance and calmness across 90 minutes, Shaqiri is more likely to impact games in short bursts, noted by Stefan Bienkowski of the New York Times:
Can't remember the last time Shaqiri threatened to disappoint for a whole 90 minutes. He usually does it in 10-15min sub appearances.— Stefan Bienkowski (@SBienkowski) June 15, 2014
Both players are versatile, but have reached different points in their careers. At 26 years old, Lallana is ready to represent an elite club. He has proven himself throughout the English league structure and has improved across two Premier League seasons with the Saints. Shaqiri, although widely regarded across the globe, needs first-team football to ensure he reaches his potential.
Who should Liverpool try to sign?
Southampton obviously aren't going to let Lallana leave without getting what they want—£30 million according to ESPN FC—so it's time for Rodgers to either stump up the cash or move on. If Shaqiri is available for £16 million, as noted by Jones, the decision is a no-brainer.
Whatever Rodgers' call, he needs to ensure transfers are wrapped up as quickly as possible. Although the captures of Rickie Lambert and Emre Can (in principle) have been smooth, the lack of confirmation around Lallana adds to the Alberto Moreno deal potentially stalling, per an alternate Jones report.
Reds fans don't want a repeat of January—which saw likely deals for Yevhen Konoplyanka and Mohamed Salah fall through—limiting the club's strength in depth heading toward the conclusion of a season in which Liverpool fell just short during the title race.