Liverpool F.C. have announced the signing of Rickie Lambert from Southampton for a fee of around £4.5 million.
The England international, a boyhood Liverpool fan and youth player, has penned a deal after passing a medical at Melwood over the weekend.
The arrival of Lambert coincides with reports suggesting the Reds have submitted a £25 million bid for Southampton captain Adam Lallana.
“I can’t believe it,” Lambert told the club’s official website, liverpoolfc.com. “I’ve loved this club all my life. I left here 17 years ago – and I haven’t stopped loving it since.
“I have always dreamt of playing for Liverpool, but I did kind of think the chance of playing for them had gone. I didn’t think the chance would come.
“I know how big Liverpool are – and it means everything to me – but I know what is important; I know it’s what I do on the pitch and the minutes I play. I know that’s what matters, and that’s what I’ll be focused on.”
While at St Mary’s, Lambert bagged 117 goals in 235 appearances, including 13 goals and 10 assists in 31 English Premier League appearances in 2013/14.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is absolutely delighted with the signing of the accomplished 32-year-old — which will all but guarantee a summer exit for Iago Aspas — and rightfully so.
“I’ve seen Rickie Lambert over the years and he’s one of those players that probably never got the recognition for what a really good footballer he is,” Rodgers said.
“It’s only late on in his career – at 29, 30, 31 – that people are really starting to focus on his qualities.
“He was probably seen as the traditional big number nine, a British striker that is good in the air. But he’s one of the most accomplished footballers I’ve seen.
“It has been so refreshing that he’s got his call into the England team, and he certainly hasn’t let anyone down – he has been outstanding.
“Look at his touch, look at the level of his goals, the different types of goals he has scored over his career, and he’s a specialist on penalties as well.
“I think he is a terrific footballer and any team he plays against, he’s always a handful.”
Varane focused on World Cup, not future
Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane has insisted he is fully focused on this summer’s World Cup amid ongoing reports linking him with a move to Chelsea.
Varane, 21, was dubbed the best young centre-back in world football by Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho earlier this season, fueling speculation suggesting the Portuguese could sign the 21-year-old for the second time in three years.
Moreover, the Blues have already agreed to sell David Luiz to French champions Paris Saint-Germain, which means they will be in the market for another defender when the transfer window re-opens on 1 July.
When asked about the reported interest from West London, Varane said: “Will I remain a Real player next term? I am absolutely not focused on that.
“There is a World Cup to prepare for and it is not the right moment to have such questions.”
Varane, who put together an impressive display against Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final last month, made just 14 La Liga appearances for the European champions last season.