Rickie Lambert set for £4m Liverpool move after Reds hold talks with Southampton over England striker
Lambert expected to undergo medical on Saturday before joining back up with England to fly to America
Bid for Adam Lallana held up by the fact Bournemouth are owed a 25 per cent sell-on fee
Reds have also bid £16million for Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno
Liverpool are on the brink of signing Rickie Lambert after they launched a shock £4million bid for the England striker.
Brendan Rodgers is determined to add depth to his squad but the move for boyhood Reds fan Lambert has come from left field.
The 32-year-old is with the England squad preparing for Friday’s game with Peru, but he is expected to be allowed to travel to Liverpool on Saturday for a medical and the switch from Southampton could be completed early next week.
The initial £4m fee will rise according to the appearances he makes.
Lambert, who began his career at Liverpool’s academy, will be the first major arrival in what is expected to be a busy summer for the club.
He could even be followed by two of his team-mates from Southampton, as Liverpool are still negotiating for £30m-rated Adam Lallana and have also targeted Dejan Lovren to bolster their defence.
They have also bid £16million for Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno and could send Spanish midfielder Suso in the opposite direction to complete that deal, as Rodgers looks to bring in the numbers they will need to cope with competing in the Barclays Premier League and the Champions League.
Moreno, who has been watched by both Manchester clubs, is Liverpool’s number one target to strength a position that has given Rodgers problems in the last 12 months.
Lallana’s move has been held up by the fact Bournemouth are owed a 25 per cent sell-on fee and Liverpool have Bayern Munich’s Xherdan Shaqiri as alternative.
Emre Can, the Germany Under-21 international, is another target and Liverpool remain in talks with him over a £12million move from Bayer Leverkusen.
Yet it is the deal for Lambert – who was released by Liverpool when he was 15 famously worked in a beetroot factory – that has come as such surprise but Rodgers has always been a fan.
‘I think Rickie is a terrific player,’ said Rodgers last September before Liverpool faced Southampton at Anfield. ‘I sent him a message, a fax, when he made his England debut (against Scotland) as I know he is a big Red. I sent it on behalf of the club and all Kopites.
‘He is a Kirkby boy and I was just wishing him well, saying we were all proud of him playing for England.’
Rodgers added: ‘People look back now and say it was a mistake (to let Lambert go), but there may have been something at the time that was a factor.
‘He just might not have been ready for what Liverpool was at that time, but there is absolutely no doubt within development it cannot just be about what the player is now. With young talent you always have to look at what they could be.
‘You see so many young British players who are thrown to the garbage because maybe they are not strong or they are not quick when they are going through growth spurts. The emphasis at younger ages should be technique. But I have been a big admirer of Rickie.
Lambert urges Saints teammates to relish England experience
Lambert worked for four months in a factory putting lids on beetroot jars when he was released by Blackpool in 2000 before going on to play for Macclesfield and Stockport.
His incredible rise to fame began when Rochdale boss Steve Parkin moved him from midfield.
Parkin recalled: ‘I took him from Stockport for not much and shoved him straight up front.
‘First and foremost he was a big lad. I noticed he had a terrific shot and he was good in the air, either playing off someone or being a target man.
‘I didn’t think he’d come good in midfield, but he had exceptional touch and ability. He can see a move two or three passes before it happens so he’s always one step ahead. He always had the ability to play up front but his midfield mindset makes him good at dropping off.’
Lambert, aged 23 at the time, forged a formidable partnership with Grant Holt and they scored 27 goals in 24 matches before Holt was poached by Nottingham Forest.
But it got Lambert noticed, too, by Bristol Rovers director of football Lennie Lawrence.
‘It took four months to get him fit,’ said Lawrence, now assistant manager at Bolton.
‘He had all sorts of different little ailments, minor things. After we got him fit – boom.
‘We always knew he could score. He strikes the ball so powerfully and he knows how to use his body, he’s a clever player. He’s a great lad. Unassuming, terrific, never arrogant. Just a bloody good lad and very popular.’
Southampton signed him for £1million in 2009 and he has been top scorer every season since.