By Connor Varnish – @cvarn4
Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren has been the subject of recent transfer speculation coming out of Italy, with AC Milan looking most likely to secure the Croatian’s signature.
And while many fans have been looking forward to seeing the last of Lovren in a Liverpool shirt, they may have to wait a little longer before that becomes a reality.
It appears as though Degsy is still in Jurgen Klopp’s plans though, at least for the upcoming 2019/20 campaign as reported by James Pearce, now former Liverpool correspondent for the Echo.
All indications suggest Jurgen will head into pre-season with the same four centre back options as last season, and although some may lead you to believe we should have strengthened in this department, here’s why it’s actually a good thing the Croatian is staying at Anfield for another season if the reports are true.
I think it’s fair to say Lovren will be our fourth choice centre back, with Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, and Joe Gomez higher up the boss’ pecking order. Lovren, who recently turned 30, is perhaps the best fourth-choice centre-back in the league, despite his weaknesses.
There’s no doubting his quality when he’s on his game. He’s strong enough in the air, comfortable enough on the ball, and never shies away from putting his body on the line for the team. However, Liverpool fans know all to well that when Lovren’s head goes, football becomes a foreign game to the Croatian and he becomes susceptible to mistakes.
Other than that, he’s a pretty sound fourth-choice to have, depending of course on the Croatian’s fitness. He is known to pick up slight knocks every other month or so that see him miss a few games. Perhaps that’s another reason as to why Klopp brought in youngster Sepp van den Berg to fill in as fourth-choice when Lovren inevitably misses time?
The idea of selling Lovren to buy another centre-back to challenge for the first team doesn’t add up for me. Unless a generational talent were actually available, any addition would likely hinder Gomez’ development and push Joel Matip back into obscurity.
Both Gomez and Matip were superb when in full flow last season, with both respectively forming perhaps the best centre back partnerships in the league when next to Virgil. Klopp would essentially have to sell Lovren, a player in his prime and seemingly content on fighting for his role back in a title-winning team, just to buy another squad option who would have to bide his time adjusting to Klopp’s philosophy.
Lovren seems a good influence in the dressing room, and he’s very confident in himself, almost to a fault. We’ve seen Klopp hang onto players he’s grown keen to despite their on field deficiencies in players such as Adam Lallana, Alberto Moreno, Simon Mignolet, etc…Lovren, in my opinion, is no different.
Although he may ride out his last year largely on the bench, he will have seen how Joel Matip has resurrected his Anfield career in playing a pivotal role in Liverpool’s Champions League run and think to himself that he’ll have a shot of getting back into the team when his chance undoubtedly comes in such a packed upcoming schedule.
There is no shortage of competition in the centre back department when all are fit. Lovren will push Matip and Gomez week-in, week-out in efforts to get himself back into the side.
This certainly only has positive implications for our centre backs. We have cried out for competition within the squad to reduce complacency, and we have that in Lovren.
Selling him now would most likely disrupt the harmony we have amongst our back line. We’ll no doubt need Lovren at some point next season seeing as Matip and Gomez’ fitness have proven to wain over the course of a season.
We have one world-class option at centre-back in big Vrigil, two great talents in Joel Matip and Joe Gomez, and one wild card in Dejan Lovren. Excellent on his day, League One-standard at his worst – but it’s usually somewhere in between with Degsy.
Despite his inconsistency, the Croatian is still a valuable member of this squad. Still in his prime, Dejan Lovren brings enough ability to the table to be a useful member to this Liverpool team, and will provide Jurgen Klopp’s team with the depth it needs in order to challenge across all competitions in the upcoming season.
So whether it likely be pushing Gomez and Matip on the training ground to up their level of play, or next to Virgil in the first team, if James Pearce’s claims that Lovren’s time in Merseyside is not up just yet, the Croatian will have a part to play in quest to add to more silverware to Jurgen’s Reds’ trophy cabinet.