It is that time of the year when The Clash’s seminal anthem “Should I stay or Should I Go” runs through my head constantly. This summer, that tune is being sung with the images of Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana and right-back Nathaniel Clyne belting out the chorus.
The two players came into the preseason with speculation surrounding their careers at Anfield. After both disappointed and spent much of the last term injured (Clyne was at Bournemouth for the second half of the season), expectations were high both would leave this offseason.
Yet, that may not actually be the case. Lallana and Clyne are in two different boats. One has been given a new role while the other is allegedly free to leave for the right price.
But does either Lallana or Clyne actually have a future at Anfield?
For anyone who has watched Liverpool’s preseason friendlies against Tranmere Rovers and Bradford City, they will have seen Lallana play in the middle of a midfield three. His new role has him playing in Fabinho’s spot, laying deep with the play in front of him, rather than in an advanced attacking position.
Lallana had typically played on either side of the pivot getting forward to either score goals or create them. Yet, two years of constant injuries have taken their toll on the Englishman. Lallana missed seven matches last season due to injury, according to Transfermarkt. When available, however, Lallana looked a shell of his former self on the pitch. There is no denying that manager Jurgen Klopp is a fan of Lallana’s play and will give the midfielder a chance.
Lallana has been receiving praise from Klopp for his play in the new role. It seems unlikely, however, that he will unseat Fabinho. However, Monday’s The Anfield Wrap podcast did ponder the possibility of Lallana playing the No. 6 against teams that put 11 players behind the ball and don’t take the game to Liverpool.
It would give the Reds more attacking creativity at that point to have Lallana as the deep-lying midfielder. Lallana’s injury record and decreasing pace could also be a reason for the move.
Unfortunately, Liverpool have a stacked midfield now that players such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is fully fit. Even though the Reds will have a long campaign and play on four fronts, there are only three places in the centre of the park for Liverpool.
One would assume Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, Naby Keita, and James Milner would be the first five names to go on the team sheet before Lallana’s.
Lallana appeared 16 times for the Reds last season without registering a goal or assist. He accumulated just 568 minutes of the pitch or 35.5 minutes per match.
The midfielder is in the last season of his current Liverpool contract but does have a club option for 2020-21.
Clyne is in a very different boat but can still play a major part for Liverpool. The Reds are still without a backup for Andrew Robertson after Alberto Moreno was released. Conventional wisdom tells use Joe Gomez could slide over to left-back when needed making Clyne Trent Alexander-Arnold’s backup.
It is easy to forget that Clyne is still just 28. Like Lallana, injuries have most likely caught up with him, taking some pace off what was once a powerful right-back.
Liverpool do have more incentive to sell Clyne this summer as his contract will expire next summer and there is no club option on it. It is alleged that Clyne is available for a transfer at the right price. He is said to be “in-demand” after appearing in 14 matches for Bournemouth and tallying one assist.
Keeping the right-back makes plenty of sense right now, but in 12 months’ time letting him go on a free transfer won’t. Or will it? The Reds willingly let go two non-Klopp signings leave this summer for free when Moreno and Daniel Sturridge walked away from Anfield. Although valued at £12m, Clyne could offer Liverpool far more in cover for the season than what they would receive in a transfer fee right now.
Too often the transfer market sees teams buy and sell players all too easily. But this summer, in the cases of Lallana and Clyne, a lot of thought must go into their futures and the club’s next 12 months. As both could still make a positive impact on the squad.