Brendan Rodgers is reportedly close to signing a Southampton player, but not the one many expected Liverpool to nab from the Saints. Rather than Adam Lallana (or any of the other Southampton names recently linked to the Reds), it's veteran striker Rickie Lambert who looks to be Anfield bound for a fee of around £4m plus add ons. After taking a moment to shake off the shock created by the unexpectedness of the potential move, the addition of Lambert begins to make a whole lot of sense.
Liverpool are not a poor club, but in contrast to domestic rivals such as Chelsea and Manchester City or European teams like PSG, they are at a money disadvantage and therefore must locate overlooked talent pools where bargains can be found. In other words, Brendan Rodgers and his staff have to determine market inefficiencies to exploit in order to remain competitive with sides that can blow them out of the water in terms of pure financial muscle.
It's encouraging then that Liverpool are looking to a 32-year-old atypical striker to supplement an already potent attack force instead of chasing an overrated forward out of their price range. Rickie Lambert is not the slick future phenom that the big money teams are after and he comes with little glamour or flair - he's past his prime, built like a bear, and scores a large percentage of his goals outside of open play. But because of these things he only costs £4m, making him an ideal fit for Liverpool.
Lambert can obviously provide additional depth to Liverpool's front line, but more importantly, he can give Rodgers a new attacking wrinkle. As much as Rodgers loves to play attractive football, there will be situations next season that call for a more physical, rugged approach. Lambert is the type of player you want in the second leg of a Champions League Quarterfinal, backed against the wall in a foreign country, desperately clinging to a slim lead on aggregate with either Suarez or Sturridge banged up. He's powerful and experienced, two qualities that Liverpool lacked at times last year. And for a player known for his aerial ability, he has plenty of playmaking prowess with his feet.
The move, if completed, may cause some people to question Fabio Borini's future, but I actually think that getting Lambert cements Borini into Rodgers' long-term plans. At the age of 32, Lambert is a temporary figure for Liverpool who will help the team for a season or two and then move on, whereas Borini is expected to remain at Liverpool for much longer. And so if Lambert is our only striker signing (which is likely), Borini will have no long-term competition for his role in Liverpool's squad rotation.
Rickie Lambert won't be what makes or breaks this transfer window - Liverpool must make several major additions to the squad regardless - but he's cheap and he's a good player to have around. Furthermore, the shrewd nature of this rumored deal shows a thoughtfulness in how Liverpool are choosing to spend their money, which bodes well for future dealings.