Why did Liverpool buy Rickie Lambert?

Lambert leaves Liverpool for West Brom
Lambert leaves Liverpool for West Brom

As Rickie Lambert completed his £3m move from Liverpool to West Bromwich Albion, he could have been forgiven for wondering what his bemusing year at Anfield was all about.

Lambert's return to the club who rejected him as a kid was the stuff of dreams, with former beetroot factory worker completing his journey from zero to hero at his beloved Liverpool one of the feel-good stories of last summer.

The player who had proved his worth as a top level striker at Southampton appeared to be a decent addition to a Liverpool side lacking a presence in their forward line, with Lambert's inclusion in England's 2014 World Cup squad evidence that he was one of the best of his ilk in the Premier League last season.

Yet from the moment Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers started discussing the role he saw Lambert playing in his team, it was evident that he had been signed as a bench warming back-up.

"He was always brought in to perform a role which is to play in games and come on in games to try and have an effect," stated Rodgers, who handed Lambert just seven Premier League starts all season to confirm his point.

Despite the enduring absence of lead striker Daniel Sturridge, Rodgers' desire to pick Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini or winger Raheem Sterling in his line-up instead of Lambert suggested he may not have wanted him at the club in the first place.

There are doubts over who has the final decision on transfers at Liverpool and in a story that is comparable to Robbie Keane's brief and unfathomable spell at Anfield back in 2008, Lambert quickly became an isolated figure.

"I feel sorry for Rickie," says Liverpool goal scoring great John Aldridge. 

"He has barely been given a chance to show what he can do at Liverpool and that was in a season when Liverpool could not buy a goal from their strikers.

"It is a shame in my eyes that he didn't get a run in the team because Rickie showed at Southampton that he can offer plenty physically to a forward line."

With transfer to West Bromwich Albion now rubbed-stamped, the hard-working Lambert will doubtless spend the next few months confirming he could have been a decent option for Rodgers to turn to in his hour of need last season.

Okay, so the former Macclesfield and Stockport star is not a player blessed with enough quality to frighten Champions League defences into submission, but neither is Balotelli in his current guise.

Not for the first time, we are left asking who sanctioned the deal for Liverpool to sign Lambert from Southampton and if it was the manager, why did he change his mind on the striker's abilities so quickly?

They are questions Lambert must be asking himself as he prepares to try and get his career back on track under Tony Pulis at the Hawthorns.