2 June 2014, 11:33
Striker Rickie Lambert has completed his move from Southampton to Liverpool.
The 32-year-old, currently out in Miami with England's World Cup squad, underwent a medical on Saturday after a fee of £4million was agreed with the Saints.
Lambert is understood to have signed a two-year deal with the club who released him as a 15-year-old.
Born in Kirkby, Merseyside, Lambert was a member of Liverpool's academy until his mid-teens, after which he found himself playing in the lower leagues for the likes of Macclesfield, Stockport, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers before finding success at Southampton.
He will provide some much-needed back-up to frontline strikers Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge and while he may have to content himself with a supporting role from the bench at Anfield the chance to rejoin his boyhood club and play in the Champions League was an opportunity he did not want to miss.
He spent five years at Southampton, scoring 117 goals in 235 games as they were promoted twice to reach the Premier League.
In a statement on the club website, Southampton FC said:
"Southampton Football Club can confirm that we have received multiple offers for some of our players in the past weeks. This is a confirmation of the depth of the development that is ongoing in our academy and of the present standing of our first team within the Premier League.
"We are staying true to our plan and vision and, as a result, we have no need to accept any offers. We are deep in the process of appointing a new manager who will continue to move our club forward. It remains our preference not to partake in any transfers until the new manager is in place. Our scouting & recruitment department continues to monitor targets we have identified to improve our squad, and the new manager will have final input into our recruitment process.
"However, Southampton Football Club can confirm that it has reached agreement with Liverpool for the transfer of Rickie Lambert.
"There may be circumstances under which the club will feel it is right for a player to move on. Those circumstances have to be right for the club and the player. This is the case with Rickie’s move to Liverpool.
"When Rickie Lambert requested to leave for Liverpool, the club felt it could not stand in the way of having him fulfil his boyhood dream of playing at home. It will be a big challenge to replace him and our intention is to source a quality replacement who will fill his shoes now but also for many years to come."
Chairman Ralph Krueger commented:
“On behalf of the club, I would like to thank Rickie. He served with distinction and helped to take Saints from League 1 to the Premier League.
“Rickie has been a shining light in Saints’ growth and will forever remain an icon in the history of the club. He leaves with the best wishes of everyone at Southampton and will always be welcome back at St Mary’s.”
Rickie has written an open letter to Southampton, on the club's website:
Southampton has been my life for the past five years, in which we have achieved all of our dreams and more.
First I have to thank Markus Liebherr for saving Southampton then Alan Pardew for bringing me to the club.
Thank you to all the staff involved in making me the player I am today. Without your knowledge and commitment I would not be here right now at a World Cup with England.
Thank you to all the players, past and present, who I have had nothing but good times and success with driven by our club captain, Kelvin Davis. I love every last one of you.
Thank you to the managers I have worked with – Alan, Nigel and Mauricio – and their teams for helping me and Southampton step up and adapt to every challenge that has come our way the past five years.
When I grew up there was only one club I loved. I can honestly say now I have two clubs which will always be in my heart and that is thanks to the Saints fans.
The people who support this club have been nothing short of amazing towards me and, when I look back in years to come, it will be the relationship I had with the fans here which will stand out the most.
Southampton have allowed me to realise a lifelong ambition by joining Liverpool FC and taking my family home. The five-year plan when I arrived was to get this club from League 1 to the top half of the Premier League. Against all the odds we have achieved that.
Now, under Katharina Liebherr’s leadership, the club has the chance for new plan, a new chapter, and I wish them all the success in the world.