The 32-year-old has signed a two-year contract with the Anfield club to become the first signing of what promises to be a hectic summer in the transfer market for Brendan Rodgers. The striker could also be the first of several high-profile player exits from the St Mary’s Stadium.
Liverpool had been in talks for the Southampton captain Adam Lallana plus central defender Dejan Lovren when the surprise deal was struck for Lambert, who represents a departure in transfer business for Fenway Sports Group and in forward options available to Rodgers. FSG, Liverpool’s owners, have targeted younger signings in the past and resisted short-term solutions with little or no resale value. The Liverpool manager, for his part, has always insisted on enhancing his “Plan A” rather than reverting to a “Plan B”.
Rodgers, however, views Lambert as a far more technically gifted player than he is given credit for. The transfer represents a dream move for the Kirkby-born Liverpool fan, who was released by the club as a 15-year-old schoolboy before embarking on a remarkable route back to the top via Blackpool, Macclesfield Town, Stockport County, Rochdale, Bristol Rovers and Southampton, where he played an integral part in the club’s return to the Premier League from League One.
Liverpool agreed terms with Southampton on Friday and, having been on the bench for England’s 3-0 friendly defeat of Peru at Wembley, Lambert travelled to Merseyside for a medical on Saturday. He agreed personal terms with Anfield officials before returning to the south coast and then heading to Miami for England’s World Cup preparations on Sunday.
“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,” Lambert told the club’s official website. “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.”
A deal for Lallana, however, remains at deadlock despite Liverpool improving their offer for the midfielder from £20m to £25m on Friday. Liverpool view £25m as a final offer for the 26-year-old but Southampton are holding out for £30m with Bournemouth, Lallana’s former club, due a 25% sell-on fee.