Liverpool have completed the signing of Southampton and England striker Rickie Lambert.
The 32-year-old - a boyhood Liverpool fan and former Anfield trainee - has returned to Merseyside for an undisclosed fee after five fine seasons on the English south coast.
Lambert has enjoyed a prolific rise through the divisions with Southampton, scoring 115 goals in 229 games since signing from Bristol Rovers in 2009.
He remained a pivotal figure in the top flight at St Mary's Stadium under managers Nigel Adkins and Mauricio Pochettino, helping them to a record Premier League points tally last season.
Speaking about his move, Lambert told Liverpool's official website of his disbelief at returning to Anfield.
"I can't believe it. I've loved this club all my life. I left here 17 years ago - and I haven't stopped loving it since.
"I have always dreamt of playing for Liverpool, but I did kind of think the chance of playing for them had gone. I didn't think the chance would come.
"I know how big Liverpool are - and it means everything to me - but I know what is important; I know it's what I do on the pitch and the minutes I play. I know that's what matters, and that's what I'll be focused on."
Manager Brendan Rodgers – who recently signed a new long-term deal at Anfield – was thrilled with the capture, describing Lambert as "one of the most accomplished players" he has seen.
"I've seen Rickie Lambert over the years and he's one of those players that probably never got the recognition for what a really good footballer he is," he commented.
"It's only late on in his career - at 29, 30, 31 - that people are really starting to focus on his qualities. He was probably seen as the traditional big number nine, a British striker that is good in the air.
"But he's one of the most accomplished footballers I've seen. It has been so refreshing that he's got his call into the England team, and he certainly hasn't let anyone down - he has been outstanding.
Lambert's performances for Southampton have seen him earn international recognition with England, where he has scored two goals in four appearances.
He was named in Roy Hodgson's squad for the FIFA World Cup, which starts in Brazil later this month, and is currently in Miami preparing England's warm-up friendlies with Ecuador and Honduras ahead of their Group D opener with Italy on June 14.
Lambert's exit continues what looks like becoming a string of departures from St Mary's this close-season, with Pochettino already having left for Tottenham.
Southampton captain Adam Lallana is also expected to leave the club, with Liverpool reportedly in pole position to bring in the playmaker.
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