Adam Lallana has revealed that he sought the advice of Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier before opting to leave the club this summer for Liverpool in a £25 million deal.
Lallana, 26, moved from Bournemouth to the Saints in 2000 at the age of 12, before going to on to score 60 goals in 265 appearances following his August 2006 debut, helping guide the club from League One to an eight-place Premier League finish.
Establishing himself in the England setup over the course of last season, the nine-time capped midfielder admits that it was a far from straightforward decision to leave, but the blessing of Le Tissier, who turned down several high-profile offers during his career to remain on the south coast, was a crucial factor in helping him make up his mind.
‘I did speak to Matty and asked his advice,’ he told the Telegraph. ‘He’s a great man, and a good friend of mine, someone I’ll always look up to.
‘He texts me every now and again. He just said whatever decision I made, he’d support me.’
Lallana received some criticism from Saints fans in the wake of his departure, but insists that his Anfield switch was the best move for his career at this point.
‘I don’t look a lot into it or read a lot into it. I never ever wanted anything to get messy,’ he said.
‘I’m sad and disappointed that certain fans feel like that, but I understand why. They love Southampton. I’ll always love Southampton. I’ll always have special memories of the fans, the players and the people involved in the club.
‘At the age I was at my career, and with Mauricio [Pochettino] leaving as well, it just felt the right time for me to test myself. Being Liverpool, it was a great opportunity.
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‘Knowing of that interest was attractive for me with Liverpool being such an historic club,’ he explained. ‘The manager [Brendan Rodgers] was a big influence, and the way he played his football. Champions League football is another level, too. You want to be playing that and testing yourself. Leaving Southampton was a very, very hard decision but one I had to make.
‘When people move for big sums of money to a team that will always be challenging for silverware that comes with added pressure. I’m dealing with it and enjoying it. I hope it pushes me on a notch. Working with the players at Liverpool and playing in elite competitions is only going to improve my game.
‘I could have stayed at Southampton until I retired and finished my career there. But at the age I was at, and with the opportunity I had, I couldn’t have turned it down. I would have regretted it at the end of my career if I had.
‘I hope in time the Saints fans will remember the memories we had down there and the successes we had in such a short space of time.’
After injuring his knee during the club’s pre-season tour of the USA, Lallana was forced to wait until September 13 for his Liverpool debut, but the former Saints captain has since gone on to make seven appearances for Brendan Rodgers’ side, netting his first Reds goal in the weekend’s 2-1 home win over West Bromwich Albion.