Adam Lallana was one of England’s few shining lights during the disaster of Euro 2016. No, he wasn’t at his best but he also wasn’t at his worst either. In the frustrating draws against Russia and Slovakia, he was at the centre of England’s fluid new attacking game. And in the abject defeat to Iceland, the team certainly missed his busy movement. The main problem with Lallana was goals. But not anymore. With three goals in his last seven international appearances, the Liverpool star is now very much an England star too.
Jürgen Klopp must take a good chunk of the credit. Lallana has found a new lease of life at Liverpool since the German manager’s arrival in the Premier League. Buzzing behind Sadio Mané, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, he is tirelessly creative and combative. There is no better exponent of Klopp’s high-pressing style, as he showed in the recent win over Arsenal.
In addition, more confidence has resulted in more goals. Lallana already has 7 in the Premier League this year, his best total since the 2013-14 season at Southampton. With 9 games left against the likes of Bournemouth, Watford and Crystal Palace, he should reach double figures.
And Lallana has really carried on that goalscoring form at international level, winning the Vauxhall England Player of the Year award for 2016. It started with his late strike against Slovakia, which earned Sam Allardyce a win in his only match as national manager. He followed that up with a header against Scotland and a penalty against Spain. He didn’t score against Lithuania on Sunday but his delicate through-ball set up Jamie Vardy to secure the 2-0 victory.
Now, Lallana is one of the first names on the England teamsheet. With Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane, he makes up Gareth Southgate’s exciting new attack. As Glenn Hoddle never tires of telling us in commentary, Lallana is the closest thing that England have to a European-style playmaker. He is good with both feet, he can dribble with the ball, he can spot a pass, and he makes clever runs in between the lines.
At 28, Lallana is in his footballing prime. If England are to put Euro 2016 behind them with a strong performance at the 2018 World Cup, he has a crucial role to play.