Four reasons why Dejan Lovren would be good Liverpool signing
Here are four reasons why Southampton centre-half Dejan Lovren would be a good Liverpool signing
Liverpool need a centre-half
Brendan Rodgers hasn’t hesitated in the summer transfer window, signing Southampton pair Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert before Emre Can completed his move from Bayer Leverkusen last week. Liverpool fans will welcome more attacking talent arriving in the shape of Lambert and Lallana, who is a particularly exciting prospect. But there is no doubt Rodgers must address his defence if Liverpool are going to challenge for the Premier League title next season. The Reds’s fantastic goal tally of 101 was countered by their poor defensive record, conceding 51 goals. To put that figure in context, Crystal Palace and Southampton had meaner defences last season (as well as their top-six rivals). Dejan Lovren would add some Croatian iron to Liverpool’s all-too-often vulnerable back four. The Reds manager spent £16m on Mamadou Sakho last summer, and the France international made a mixed start to his Liverpool career. The chopping and changing hasn’t helped, and either has the erratic performances of Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure at times. Lovren, who joined Southampton from Ligue 1, could settle Sakho and result in the pair becoming Liverpool long-term centre-half pairing.
Premier League experience
Sticking to Sakho, the 24-year-old has taken time to adjust to the pace of the Premier League and has contended with injury setbacks, too. It is almost a cliche when justifying an expensive Premier League acquisition, but Lovren does have English top-flight experience so he should have a straightforward bedding-in process. The south coast club conceded three goals in the first nine Premier League games following Lovren’s arrival, highlighting his ability to understood a manager’s ideas and gel into a new side. The former Dinamo Zagreb defender was one of the top-four centre-halves in the Premier League last season, sparking interest from Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. Whilst Lovren also has experience of playing in the Champions League, helping Lyon reach the last 16 in 2011-12 before a shock loss to APOEL Nicosia. Aged 25, Lovren would continue to blossom under Rodgers’s tutelage, with the Northern Irishman’s man management a real strength.
Liverpool and Southampton styles
Lallana appeared quietly confident that he could make a seamless transition into the Liverpool side thanks to Southampton adopting a similar style to the Reds. “People have said to me that there are similarities in the way Southampton and Liverpool play their football, and I hope that enables me to settle that much easier,” said Lallana in his first interview. Lovren would feel the same. Southampton start their phases of play in a similar manner to the Reds, playing out from the back as the centre-halves split and a defensive midfielder drops deep offering to take control of the ball. The Liverpool defenders have started to get to grips with Rodgers’s methods after two years at the Anfield helm. There have been mistakes along the way, something which the Reds manager accepts as his squad continue embrace his ideas. Lovren would quickly adapt to the requirements of being a Liverpool defender thanks to his experience under Mauricio Pochettino. And his passing stats are encouraging, making 52.9 passes on average with 82 per cent success last season.
The next Vidic?
There were reports that Liverpool were offered Nemanja Vidic before the Serbia international joined Manchester United in 2006. The 32-year-old went on to become one of the greatest centre-halves of the Premier League era, swapping Old Trafford for Inter Milan this summer. Lovren could well be Vidic’s natural Balkan successor in the top flight. The Zenica-born defender is a towering presence at 6ft 2ins and has a penchant for an uncompromising tackle. Lovren averaged 2.8 interceptions per game last season, placing him in the Premier League’s top 10, while also winning 61 per cent of his aerial duels. He, like Vidic so often did during his eight-year United spell, chipped in with goals from set-pieces, scoring twice. And good news for Liverpool fans, Lovren clearly holds a soft spot for the Reds: “Frankly, my head is already at Liverpool”, adding, “The last time I played at Anfield, I got chills when I heard ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’ I would like to listen to it all the time”.