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Daily Echo comment: Horror week for Saints fans gets worse
For Rickie Lambert it is a dream, but for Saints fans it probably feels like it’s edging towards a nightmare.
Just days after seeing their manager walk out and join Tottenham, they are now contemplating the loss of their star striker to Liverpool.
The Reds are confident of sealing a shock move for the 32-year-old, who holds hero status on the south coast after five phenomenal seasons at St Mary’s.
No agreement has been reached as yet, but there was a sense last night that the transfer would indeed go through this summer.
It may not be the only one, with fears other key players will be heading for pastures new in the coming months.
The loss of Lambert would undoubtedly signal the end of an era at Saints, though.
It is simply hard to overstate just how important he has been to the club since joining for £1m from Bristol Rovers in 2009.
His total of 117 goals in 235 appearances sum it up about as well as any words can, though.
It is hard to imagine many better pieces of business in the club’s history than that.
For Lambert, a move to Liverpool would mean the world.
His love of the club is well known, and the possibility of joining them would, understandably on his part, probably be too hard to pass up, even if he will undoubtedly have to accept a more limited role at Anfield.
Few would begrudge him the move, although no one in the corridors of power at St Mary’s should be worrying about such sentiments.
Lambert remains a vital part of the Saints squad and should a move now go ahead it will be an embarrassing blow for the board.
Just 24 hours before the news broke, chairman Ralph Krueger had this to say on transfer activity this summer: “We will involve the (new) manager. That is important for everybody to know.
“That’s why we have been able to not agree to any transfers to date, because we have control of the situation, and anybody who is saying anything else doesn’t understand that we are in a strong position with the Saints.”
Even if Saints do delay pulling the trigger on a deal until after Mauricio Pochettino’s replacement is found, the mere fact this has come out, or that discussions have taken place, has been damaging to them.
Keeping Lambert is the only way it appears salvageable for them, and that outcome looks extremely unlikely right now.
The loss of the forward this summer in some respects would not come as a complete surprise.
The seeds of his likely departure had begun to be sowed back in January.
The club were understood to be in advanced discussions to sell Lambert to West Ham on the day Nicola Cortese departed as chairman, with the striker set to receive a lucrative deal that would have set him up for years to come.
However, after the new board took control, they immediately called off the transfer and told Lambert he was staying and would have to honour his current contract.
The whole saga, which Lambert admitted at the time had been a hard one, is believed to have caused some strain in the relationship between player and club.
Behind the scenes, it had led to a sense that this summer might prove to signal the end of his amazing career with Saints.
If that is to be the case, what a sad loss it will be.
And not just as a player, but as a voice in the dressing room and as a person too.
Footballers aren’t always easy people to root for. But anyone who knows Lambert knows that he is.
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