PREMIER LEAGUE

Liverpool looking for defensive reinforcements as Lovren departs

The experience Croatian has left the club after six years on Merseyside leaving Liverpool with only three senior central defenders in the squad.

Liverpool looking for defensive reinforcements as Lovren departs

Dejan Lovren’s £11million move to Zenit St Petersburg was confirmed by the club on Monday to end the defender’s six-year spell at Anfield. He leaves with Premier League and Champions League winner’s medals and has made 185 appearances for the club.

He started the World Cup final just two years ago as Croatia lost 4-2 to France but had never entirely convinced during his time at Liverpool. In recent seasons he had slipped behind Joel Matip and Joe Gomez in the pecking order to partner Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the Liverpool defence.

Nevertheless the Croatian will be fondly remembered by Liverpool fans who saw his last-minute winner against Borussia Dortmund in the 2015/16 Europa League semi-final.

Replacements needed for Liverpool backline

Lovren was one of only four senior central defenders at the club before his departure so Liverpool will almost certainly look to bring in at least one replacement as they aim to retain the Premier League next season.

Reports in Germany had suggested that Liverpool may be interested in Schalke’s 20-year-old Ozan Kabak, who has impressed this year in a struggling side. There have also been rumours linking the Reds with RB Leipzig defender Nordi Mukiele. French publication Le10Sport claimed last week that Jürgen Klopp “has already spoken” with the 22-year-old about the prospect of a move.

But Klopp has been clear in recent interviews that he does not anticipate any major transfer deals coming into Anfield this season, admitting that the champions may not have the funds needed to compete for top players after the disruption caused by the coronavirus.

1252295289LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp looks on prior to the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace at Anfield on June 24, 2020 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

“To strengthen the squad you need money and these are uncertain times. Obviously, uncertain times means for some clubs we cannot do what we would do in non-uncertain times”, he said. We have talents ourselves, big talents, and players who can make big steps in our squad.”

Liverpool will likely make one signing to provide some depth for a squad looking to compete in four competitions next year but Klopp may look for internal solutions as well. The Reds have two highly-rated young centre-backs in Sepp van den Berg and Ki-Jana Hoever who may start to get some game time in the first team next season.

Another option for Klopp would be to drop Fabinho back into defence when needed, as Manchester City have done with Fernandinho in recent season. The Brazilian has played there before and Klopp has previously spoken of him as an option at centre-half.