Liverpool striker Rickie Lambert says he came “very close” to signing for Aston Villa on transfer-deadline day, only to pull out at the last minute as he refused to throw in the towel on his Reds career.
Since joining boyhood club Liverpool from Southampton last summer for £4m, the England international has struggled to make an impact, making only 10 starts in all competitions, scoring just three times. With Daniel Sturridge fit again, Lambert will find it even harder to get playing time the rest of the season.
With Villa desperate for goals they attempted a late raid on the Reds to prise Lambert away, going so far as to agree terms on a two-and-a- half-year deal, only for the 33-year-old to decide to stay at Anfield. Explaining his decision to the Liverpool Echo, Lambert said:
“I got a phone call from the gaffer about 4pm (on deadline day) saying Aston Villa had come in.
“He said he didn’t want me to go, but basically offered me the chance if I wanted to play football, which is fair enough. I spoke to my agent, my wife, to Aston Villa and it was close. It was very close. It was touch and go. We agreed everything.
“But in the end there just wasn’t enough time to say ‘yes’ – to make a decision in the space of four or five hours for the next two-and-a-half-years. Not just for me, but for my family as well. It was something I just couldn’t do. It was too short notice. It was too big of a decision to make in the short amount of time I had.”
Lambert concedes he did not want to leave Liverpool so soon after realising his dream of playing for the Merseyside club. “It was nothing negative towards Aston Villa, it’s a great club,” added Lambert.
“I just didn’t think it was right for me to leave here just six months into my Liverpool career. I didn’t want to go.
“It was something I would have probably looked back at a few years down the line and regretted if I had moved too early. It’s hard sometimes when you aren’t playing, but I’m at the club I love. I’m not willing to give that up easily.”
I understand why Lambert did not want to leave his childhood side and join a club that is involved in another relegation scrap. But I still question why Liverpool signed Lambert in the summer. He does not fit into Brendan Rodger’s style of play, and even at £4 million looks like a bad signing.