Adam Lallana put a full-page ad in the Southern Daily Echo when he left Southampton this summer, thanking the club for “14 unforgettable years”. Today the Liverpool midfielder sent out another, more forthright message, by denying the “completely false” rumour that he had refused to play for the south coast club if they had blocked his eventual £25m July transfer to Anfield.
Speaking at St George's Park ahead of England's match against San Marino on Thursday, Lallana said: “I didn't say I'd never play for the club again. Once I knew Liverpool's interest, I asked the club if they could come to an agreement and that it would be my wish to leave and join Liverpool. I'll make no secret of that. I'm an ambitious person. At the age I was at, and with Mauricio [Pochettino, the manager] leaving as well, it just felt the right time for me to test myself.”
Reflecting on the difficulty of prising himself away from the club he had served for eight years, Lallana revealed he even sought the advice of Matt Le Tissier, the Saints legend and one-club man. “I did speak to Matt and asked his advice,” said Lallana. “Whatever decision I made, he said he'd support me.” Where Le Tissier once rejected Chelsea's overtures to stay at The Dell, the 26-year-old moved on from St Mary's, citing the attraction of “such an historic club” as Liverpool.
He added: “The manager [Brendan Rogers] was a big influence, the way he played his football. Champions League football is another level, too. You want to be playing that and testing yourself [but] leaving Southampton was a hard decision. I have a lot of special memories with people down there and the fans.”
Noises coming out of St Mary's since his departure suggest that Lallana's attempts to force through his move had left a sour taste but he added: “I have great respect for Southampton as a club. Without them, I wouldn't be where I am today. They gave me my chance when I was young. What we achieved was special: we were in League One and ended up finishing last season with our best number of [Premier League] points.”
And he stressed that his international ambitions had nothing to do with his wish to leave Saints. “If you're good enough and playing well enough, you'll get picked for your country. Southampton had three or four players and a few have moved on, but you've still got Nathaniel Clyne and Jay Rodriguez. [Graziano] Pelle has just been called up to the Italy squad, and there's Fraser Forster and Morgan Schneiderlin.”
As for Lallana himself, he should have a spring in his step at Wembley as, after missing the start of the season with a knee injury, he scored his first Liverpool goal against West Bromwich Albion last Saturday and is “getting back to my best football”. He added: “We had a cup game [against Middlesbrough] that went 120 minutes that was good for my fitness and the last three or four games I have felt really good. If I get my chance [against San Marino] I will be looking to take it.”Reuse content