Lallana has brought ‘Liverpool standards’ to Brighton’s approach and training

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Adam Lallana is driving up standards at Brighton & Hove Albion to the levels that made him a Premier League and Champions League winner with Liverpool.

Adam Webster, the club’s record signing, revealed the extent of Lallana’s influence after the 34-year-old attacking midfielder scored and provided an assist in the 3-2 away win over Wolves on Saturday.

Central defender Webster became Brighton’s most expensive player when he was signed for £20million from Championship side Bristol City in August 2019.

Lallana joined 11 months later on a free transfer after six years at Liverpool. During the pandemic lockdown the following year, with no crowds at matches because of the restrictions in place to combat the spread of COVID-19, the experienced midfielder was noticeably very vocal on the pitch, instructing and cajoling his team-mates and questioning referees.

Webster, speaking exclusively to The Athletic, said of Lallana’s signing: “Everyone was buzzing. We all knew about him as a player. The fact that the club could bring somebody in from Liverpool when they’d just won the league and the Champions League, it was a massive coup for us with his experience and knowledge.

“We knew it was going to help the squad and he certainly has. The first year he came in, the culture wasn’t what it’s like at the club now. He’s been a big part of that in terms of how he approached training every day.

“The first year I came in, it was Graham Potter’s first year (as head coach). The culture was completely different. For some players, who aren’t here now, it was just another day, whereas training now every day is like a match. That’s so important and he (Lallana) has driven standards up since he came in.

“It took a few months for it to happen but then, once it happened, everyone’s done it every day. If you are not, then you are going to fall away. We’ve seen players come and go.

Lallana scored and assisted as Brighton won at Wolves on Saturday (Photo: Jack Thomas/WWFC/Wolverhampton Wanderers FC via Getty Images)

“It just makes it so much better for us. It’s all about trying to improve. Everyone’s pushing each other. If you are not doing it in training, then you won’t play at the weekend, it’s as simple as that.”

Lallana gave Brighton a 10th-minute lead at Molineux with a sublime curling finish to a slick move involving Kaoru Mitoma and Leandro Trossard. After managerless Wolves had rallied to go 2-1 ahead, his pinpoint cross was then headed in by Japan international Mitoma for an equaliser just before half-time.

It was the first time Lallana has scored and assisted in the same Premier League game since he got two goals in a 3-0 Liverpool win away to Middlesbrough in December 2016.

His stunning strike, just his second goal for Brighton on his 66th appearance for the club, also ended a personal away goal famine stretching back to a late equaliser for Liverpool in a 1-1 draw at Manchester United three years ago.

Webster said: “I said to him after the game it was about time he put one in the top corner. He said, ‘Don’t get used to it!’. It was a great finish, a great goal — and then he provides the cross for the second goal. He’s just massive for us in terms of how we want to play.

“You know full well (as a defender) that every time you wrap a pass through the lines, he’s going to control it and secure possession for you. That’s so good for me and Dunky (Lewis Dunk), because you don’t have to hesitate whether to play the pass, left feet, right feet. He’s a joy to play with.”

Lallana, who has been used in a variety of midfield roles by Brighton, is excelling this season as a No 10.

Potter played him there, behind former England team-mate Danny Welbeck, in the 2-1 win at Manchester United in the opening game of the campaign. And Roberto De Zerbi, who took charge in late September when Potter left for Chelsea, is deploying Lallana in the same position.

At Wolves, he operated behind Trossard, with Welbeck starting the match on the bench after missing the 4-1 home demolition of Potter’s Chelsea last weekend through illness.

De Zerbi, not surprisingly, stuck with the starting XI that destroyed Chelsea, with midfielder Pascal Gross again playing at right-back.

Gross, having capped the rout of Chelsea, followed that up with the decisive goal in the 83rd minute against Wolves, providing De Zerbi with a second victory in succession after the hosts had been reduced to 10 men on the stroke of half-time by the dismissal of Nelson Semedo.

De Zerbi appreciates the importance of Lallana, along with his match-winner. “Lallana and Pascal Gross are like teachers, because they understand the new advice, the new idea in terms of style of play,” the Italian said.

Lallana lasted 65 minutes at Molineux — just as he had against Chelsea — before Welbeck replaced him. Encouragingly for Brighton supporters, they are about to see more of Lallana if he steers clear of the injury niggles that have plagued his career.

De Zerbi said: “For the moment he is playing only 60-70 minutes, because he had a problem this week and in the last weeks, but when he is 100 per cent he can play 90 minutes.”

Even when he isn’t playing, Lallana is helping Brighton to improve.

Webster said: “He’s a very vocal character. It’s not just on the pitch, it’s off the pitch, in training.

“It’s just driven the standards up completely. At Liverpool, it would have been similar there. The standards are so, so high, that’s what pushes the squads on and gets people improving. That’s why Liverpool have a lot of success.”

The Lallana effect is rubbing off at Brighton, which could just help De Zerbi deliver European football to the club for the first time.

(Top photo: David Horton/CameraSport via Getty Images)