Writer: Gavin Kelley-Day
Date:Monday May 19 2014
According to a variety of weekend reports, Liverpool are looking to shore up their rearguard with Southampton's Dejan Lovren...
Few will argue that Liverpool lost the Premier League title last season primarily as a result of their leaky back-line.
The club shipped 50 goals in their 38 league fixtures; more than anyone else in the top eight except Tottenham Hotspur and 23 more than the division's strongest defence, which belonged to Chelsea.
In the week since the final whistle sounded there has been plenty of speculation regarding replacement full-backs - Sevilla's Alberto Moreno is reportedly the club's No.1 choice - and now it appears centre-back targets have also been identified.
Southampton's Dejan Lovren is apparently the main name in the frame after enjoying a brilliant debut season in the Premier League following an £8.5million switch from French side Lyon.
Liverpool witnessed the 24-year-old's abilities first hand when he marshalled the Saints to a surprise 1-0 victory at Anfield in September, also scoring the game's solitary goal.
The Croatian international, who missed around two months at the turn of the year with ankle ligament damage, made 29 appearances in all competitions and drew plaudits for his strength, tackling and leadership.
Lovren also offers experience beyond his years with a number of Champions League appearances and 23 senior caps already to his name, something which is likely to appeal to Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool's transfer committee.
None of the reports go as far as speculating on price but it is safe to assume Southampton will want a considerable markup on what they paid last summer.
According to the well-sourced Liverpool ECHO, no bid has yet been submitted but interest in the player is strong and genuine.
The publication infers that the Merseysiders are weighing up the former Dynamo Zagreb man's credentials alongside Steven Caulker of Cardiff City as they deliberate options.
For his part, Lovren has refused to be drawn on the rumours, telling Croatian sports paper Sportske Novosti on Monday: "I follow the media and I saw that Liverpool is allegedly interested in me. But that is all that I know so far.
"I feel great at Southampton and my contract is valid for the next three years.
"So the only thing I can say right now is that the club is the one who decides."
It is believed that any discussions regarding Lovren between Liverpool and Southampton will be separate from the ongoing negotiations regarding midfielder Adam Lallana, whom the Reds moved for last week.
Lovren is a player who impressed me immensely last season and also someone who has been connected with a transfer to Anfield in the past. That said, at such a formative stage of proceedings, there is little point in getting too carried away over the possibility of a deal. Indeed, despite our defensive frailties, Liverpool already have an abundance of big name centre-backs on the books and will need to offload some to offset any incomings, Kolo Toure and Daniel Agger would appear the most likely to leave. Having paid a questionable £25million for the services of Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori less than a year ago, Rodgers will need to make sure he gets any future recruits in this area spot on. Given Lovren is likely to cost £15million or more, Caulker, who was relegated with Cardiff last season, could prove to be the more sensible and realistic option.
Likelihood (out of 5):
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Date:Monday May 19 2014
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Vital Report: Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal (Monday December 22 2014)
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Stats: AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool (Thursday December 18 2014)
Liverpool: 'We're Getting There' - Rodgers (Thursday December 18 2014)
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