Jurgen Klopp: Adam Lallana became a Liverpool star by leaving the comfort zone
JURGEN KLOPP has hailed Adam Lallana for leaving his comfort zone to become a Liverpool hero.
Lallana returns to his old Southampton stomping ground tonight in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final.
The England midfielder is in the form of his life for club and country in his third season at Anfield since a £25m switch which still upsets some Saints fans.
He can expect some stick as normal from them tonight.
But Liverpool boss Klopp reckons Saints supporters should spend more time admiring than abusing him.
“I’m not here long enough to know why Southampton fans react as they do but he is a boy from the region, that’s how it is,” said Klopp.
“With his quality I can imagine everybody at Southampton thought he could be the player for the next 10-15 years to build a team around.
“That is how it is. But actually I’m really happy he decided differently and wanted to see something else and wanted another challenge and experience.
“He left the comfort zone.
“That is a difficult decision for both sides but I would hope that at some point they can be proud again that a boy from their region is rated so highly in English football.
“Probably one day when they sit at home and think back they will think it’s nice that he made this development.”
Lallana, is actually from St Albans in Hertfordshire, but having spent a few years on the books of Bournemouth, joined their next door neighbours at 12, eventually becoming a pivotal figure in their rise from League One to the Premier League.
The 28-year-old had already made his England debut before he joined Liverpool, but it was not until he was at Anfield that he became a regular in the starting XI.
It was far from plain sailing though with Lallana struggling in his debut season for the Reds under Brendan Rodgers.
There were glimpses of his potential with a Kop side that had gone from title challengers to struggling to make Europe.
Questions were even asked about his fitness as he only played 90 minutes in six of his first 27 Premier League appearances.
Fast forward to Christmas and Lallana clocked up more miles against Manchester City and then Sunderland than any other player in the Premier League.
Seven goals and seven assists so far this term plus three more goals for England mean he is well on course to make it his most prolific top-flight season in front of goal too.
Although his improvement started towards the end of Rodgers’ reign last year, but there is no doubt that Klopp’s tactics and management have taken him to a new level.
Klopp added: “In the first year here, I heard that nobody was really happy about his performances and especially himself probably, from what I know of him.”
You would struggle to find anyone at Anfield who isn’t happy with him now though.