By Daniel Moxon – @dmoxon_
The writing looks to be on the wall for Dejan Lovren and his time as a Liverpool player.
The Croatian central defender joined the Reds from fellow Premier League outfit and unofficial feeder club Southampton five seasons ago, and was a regular fixture in the starting XI for the first four of them.
He spent much of the last on the bench, however, as Joe Gomez and – later – Joel Matip cemented their places ahead of Lovren, who will have turned 30 by the time Jurgen Klopp’s side kick-off their 2019/20 against Norwich on August 9th.
Rumour has it he could be one of those who will head out the Anfield exit this summer, which makes sense. At this stage in his career, the player need regular playing time, while Liverpool would benefit from getting his £100,000-a-week wages off the club bill and handing his place to a younger, long-term replacement.
One man who is certainly out on July 1 is Alberto Moreno. The Spaniard is out of contract, and never really had much hope of a renewal after Andy Robertson cemented his place in the first team and as one of the best in the world in his position.
Moreno’s departure means, though, that Klopp is short on options for cover at left back. The boss need someone to be able to come in and give the Scot a rest when needed, but they must be capable of filling the void for an extended period in the event of a long-term injury to Robertson.
This is why Adam Lewis would be a risk. The youngster is highly-rated by the coaching staff at both Kirkby and Melwood, but he is likely not yet ready to be relied upon as a second choice.
Furthermore, it’s thought that Klopp would prefer to bring in player who is versatile and can play in more than one position, in order to provide greater squad depth. This is where Junior Firpo becomes a serious candidate for the role.
The Spanish U21 international enjoyed an excellent campaign in 2018/19, scoring three and assisting five more from left wing back to thrust him into the spotlight as one of Europe’s hottest propositions.
Still only 22, he could be perfect for Liverpool right now. He provides cover at left back and is good enough to start regularly if necessary, and can improve in the future to eventually rival Robertson as first choice.
He is also versatile, which is exactly what the club wants. As well as the left of defence, he can play as a wing back, left winger or even as a left-sided central defender.
This makes him a perfect addition should Lovren leave. Liverpool would be a man down at left back and centre back, while they could do with some additional cover for Sadio Mané further up the pitch. In one fell swoop, signing Junior Firpo resolves all three issues.
With a £45million release clause he would not be a cheap buy, but he would be worth as – at the very least – a backup for three positions and someone who has the time and the ability to improve and eventually stake a claim to be a first-team regular.
The path is also clearer for the Reds now, as Real Madrid – a club rumoured to be interested in signing the Real Betis man – have since moved for Lyon’s Ferland Mendy. Barcelona, however, are still on the hunt for Jordi Alba’s long-term replacement.
Irrespective of interest from elsewhere, Liverpool should still throw their hat in for the Dominican-born defender. As reigning European champions and with a manager capable of getting the best out of anybody, there are few destinations more attractive than Anfield these days.