It is not a typical Premier League season at all, the trend of the past few years does not seem to be the case this season. Arsenal and Liverpool are leading the table while Chelsea and the two Manchester sides seem to be trailing behind competing for Champions League places. What is a bigger surprise is Southamton’s form as they occupy the third spot just three points less than league leaders Arsenal. The Saints’ manager, Mauricio Pochettino, deserves a lot of credit, but his achievement wouldn’t have been what it is had Adam Lallana not been playing for his side.
Lallana joined Southampton’s academy in 2000 at the age of 12 from Bournemouth, his ex-club received £3,000 as compensation that eventually increased to £18,000 and 25% of any fee Southampton receives if they sell the player. Why would they do such a deal for a 12 year old? We may never know how they scouted him but one thing we know for sure is that their bet on him was a great one as he captains the side today with over 200 appearances and 40 goals. Adam made his professional debut at the age of 18 in a 5–2 victory over Yeovil Town, in the League Cup and since then he has been evolving greatly as an attacking midfielder.
During his stay at the club, he helped the Saints achieve back to back promotions from the League 1 to the Premier League passing through the Championship and winning himself a spot in the PFA team of the year for both 2010-2011 League One and 2011-2012 Championship. The following season he avoided relegation and secured the 14th spot in the Premier League and now they still seem to be improving season after season. Finally, last week his great form has been rewarded by a call-up to the national team as he earned his first England cap against Chile.
Lallana played well against Chile despite the loss, he was playing on the right wing and showed great signs of promise but what is it that makes him special? His greatest ability as an attacking midfielder is his ability to run into empty spaces and take create space for himself by using his body movement to manipulate the player marking him. Adam would lean his body towards the left and stretch his arm out to make his marker think he Is going left but his body would actually move to the right and thus he creates a bit of space to set up himself for a shot. Another great attribute is his quick thinking. He is always one step ahead of his opponent, he know where he wants to pass or how he wants to dribble and is always anticipating his defender’s movement.
His impact on the Premier League brings hope to English football in the sense of his ability to be a technical player. The majority of the Premier League clubs have resorted to foreign players because English players are not skilled enough. Now, he is proving them wrong by scoring goals and dribbling past opponents and running all over the pitch. Talent in England is not dead after all and now Southampton’s captain has caught the eyes of Liverpool and they seem to be interested in signing him as soon as January but it may prove difficult to convince him to leave a well functioning side especially after spending 13 years in it.
His creativity in the final third does not hide his defensive prowess, whenever the opposing team has possession; he applies pressure and eventually intercepts passes as he quickly initiates play for a counter-attack. It is not a coincidence that his club has conceded the least goals so far in the Premier League and it is a certainty that thanks to his leadership skills he has been able to lead a great defensive unit.
Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott may be known for their speed but Lallana is quite special, his skill is different, he can run at opponents even when they are pinged back in their own area, he can work in the small spaces. The former two left Southampton at a very young age and Adam unlike his former team-mates stayed at the club and suffered relegation but also achieved promotion and felt the true feeling of being a Saint. Convincing him to leave the club may be the most difficult thing to do. Though, the question is how far can he take this team and can he take England further in the World Cup in Brazil?