Liverpool striker Rickie Lambert turned down a winter window move to Aston Villa…
Rickie Lambert made a commendable decision on Monday, as he turned down a £5m move to Aston Villa in order to stay and fight for his place at Liverpool until at least the end of the season – but was he right to do so?
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Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers maintained throughout much of the transfer window that he would not allow Lambert, or fellow striker Mario Balotelli to leave. The Northern Irishman, who was quoted by the Daily Express, said: “I said at the beginning of the window, we were looking to keep all the players here, so it’ll be a quiet window for us.
“With the group of players we have – and obviously the market dictates it as well – I am happy with how the team and the squad is developing and between now and the end of the season we’ll look to continue with that improvement. We want to keep all the players here.”
However, he seemingly had a late change of heart after Villa followed up on their interest in Lambert and submitted a £5m bid – an offer which would have represented a £500,000 profit for the Reds – who paid Southampton £4.5m in the summer window.
For Liverpool, Lambert’s decision to stay affects them little. While the sale would have represented good business for the club, it would not have made any significant difference to the first-team, as the timing of the proposed deal would have also left them with no time to recruit a replacement anyway.
Rodgers has retained a decent bit-part player who will continue to provide him with a useful option off the substitutes bench, but Lambert is likely to remain on the fringes of the first-team.
At Villa, he could have been a key player. The Midlands side are crying out for a striker who can fire them to Premier League safety. Lambert could have gone down in the club’s history as the man to do just that.
Lambert’s decision to stay was a brave one – a decision based on his heart, a desire to remain with his boyhood club that he spent so many years fighting to return too. He allowed his heart to rule his head.
Having already struggled to oust Raheem Sterling, Fabio Borini and Mario Balotelli from the starting striker role, he now has a fully-fit Daniel Sturridge to contend with, after the club’s star man made a scoring return last weekend after five months on the sidelines.
Sturridge will start Wednesday’s FA Cup replay against Bolton, while Lambert will once again be on the bench. Going to Villa might not have been a glamorous move, but it would have returned him to a starting role and helped protect his diminishing England chances.
Only time will tell whether he made the right decision. You just have to hope from Lambert’s perspective that Sturridge’s return helps inspire his teammates to score more goals, and that when he does get his chance that he makes the most of it.
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