Despite once costing Liverpool £25m and being arguably the team’s most influential attacking player, Lallana has been forced to the bottom of the pecking order after a near constant battle to stay fit. In that time, the Reds have gone from strength to strength.
Two major hamstring injuries limited Lallana to just 15 appearances in all competitions in 2017/18, the year in which Mohamed Salah arrived at Anfield. He then got just 16 games last season, while he has seen just four minutes of Premier League action in 2019/20.
“There were loads of periods during last season when I was sad and angry, not at anyone in particular, just at the situation,” Lallana told The Times in an honest and open interview.
“I was continually battling to contribute, to be dependable to my team-mates because when you get injured, it is almost, not a sign of weakness, but you are not able to do your job fundamentally.”
Lallana admitted that at times he would ask the Liverpool medical staff to make his schedule the opposite to the rest of the team because it became difficult pretending everything was okay.
The 31-year-old even said that he became ‘distant’ with close friend and club captain Jordan Henderson, recalling one particular occasion during a car share that he ‘couldn’t say anything or look at’ his companion. Eventually that did change.
“I knew how important that period was for him and he had important things to focus on, being captain of the club,” Lallana said.
“I didn’t want him to worry about me. When he had his foot injuries, I was the one rallying round him. He was doing that for me, but I avoided speaking to him because I knew I would end up getting upset. That is the kind of relationship I have with him.”
For Lallana, there may be new hope that he can yet have a part to play at Liverpool if he evolves his game and reinvents himself as a deeper midfielder, a number six. That process has already started and Henderson has even nicknamed him ‘Busquets’ after the Barcelona and Spain star.
“I find it very stimulating because I get more of the ball than I have ever had in my career before. Sometimes as a ‘number eight’ you are making decoy runs, or you are offering and you don’t get the ball,” the player explained.
“Whereas if you are in the ‘six’ you are centralised to the play, involved in the build-up a lot more…That’s where the stimulation comes from – it feels good to be on the ball.”
On the advice of Henderson, Lallana has also been learning by watching videos of new Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong – “The way he plays it, he kind of dribbles a little bit more than other sixes would, which obviously brings a bit of risk but that is in my game.”