Almost everyone was left scratching their heads when Liverpool announced the signing of Rickie Lambert from Southampton in the summer. Lambert was 32 at the time and almost everything about the transfer was against the FSG policy of buying young players. There were a couple of good points from the transfer, Lambert was going to play for his boyhood club after a rather couple of brilliant seasons for Southampton and as Rodgers stated, it was going to provide Liverpool with a plan B, something that they missed last season.
Cue halfway into this season and things have not gone the way that Lambert or Liverpool would have expected. Liverpool have struggled for the majority of the season and when Daniel Sturridge was injured, they played Mario Balotelli more than Rickie Lambert and with Sturridge coming back into training, it could be a long time for Lambert on the bench.
Plan B doesn’t see the light
Even in the last game, Liverpool kept Lambert and Balotelli on the bench and started with Fabio Borini, a player whose future at Liverpool isn’t guaranteed itself. Later on Balotelli was brought on in the second half but there was no such game time for Lambert which has become an all too familiar story for the English striker.
Lambert does have quality but he needs crosses being put into the air, he isn’t going to make defence stretching runs although you can play the ball at his feet and he does have a good pair of shooting boots but his aerial ability is the most important facet of his game.
Liverpool have found this new 3-4-3 formation which lays more emphasis on the wing backs and you would expect a few crosses to come in, except most of the time the wing backs act as wingers cutting in. Lazar Markovic was a prime example of time, he runs straight at the defences and tries to do something in the penalty box, and this is why Fabio Borini was played because he has better movement than the other 2 strikers at Liverpool.
Lambert unfortunately cannot play this kind of system and he will remain a plan B or even C or D for Liverpool, especially when Sturridge makes his return to the squad. He has made 22 appearances for Liverpool and scored a couple of goals, none in the Premier League, the majority of his appearances have been substitute appearances.
The big lanky forward can do a couple of things, either he can stay at Liverpool and play a bit part role but he would be playing for his boyhood club, something that everyone would love to do or he could move and join a club which would suit him.
There have been murmurs that Crystal Palace are waiting in the wings to make a bid for the striker, although we can’t really say how he would fit into the system there, it would be a fresh challenge for a player who needs to be in the action all the time to develop and do better. At his age, he needs to play games regularly and not be a bit part player. Lambert has a tough choice to make, listen to his heart or to his head.