When Southampton were relegated to League 1, a young, promising midfielder named Adam Lallana was subject to interest from ‘bigger’ clubs, reportedly including West Ham. But unlike the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana stayed put and went on to be one of the driving forces in Southampton’s rise back to the Premier League.
He became the first Southampton midfielder to score 20 goals in a season since Matthew Le Tissier in the 2009/10 season, and has since followed Le Tissier in captaining the club and being capped at international level. Today it was announced that he has been nominated for the PFA Player of the Season, alongside Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Steven Gerrard, Yaya Toure and Eden Hazard. This seems a just reward for the loyalty that he has shown to the club, and the Saints fans will undoubtedly be delighted to have witnessed his development.
When he first started playing, it was clear he was talented, but he seemed too weak and didn’t really leave his mark on the game. Now however, Lallana has not only been the key player for Saints, but also for England, shown by his game changing performance in the recent friendly against Denmark. Instead of asking whether Lallana would get in the England squad, we are now asking ‘will he start in Manaus?’
Although it is unlikely that he will win this award, Lallana’s inclusion on the shortlist shows how far he has improved, probably as a result of getting first team football in the tough lower leagues. Obviously, he will be looking to go on and improve, maybe even leading Southampton to European football. He has been linked with moves away from St Mary’s, with Manchester United and Liverpool being heavily linked with him, however if he stayed at Saints in League One, why would he want to leave when Saints are looking to become serious European challengers?
Another Southampton player, Luke Shaw, has been nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year.