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Another false dawn or coming of age?

Some Liverpool supporters cannot stand Dejan Lovren.

Posted by Andy Thompson
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In fact, them simply reading the above headline may have caused them to throw their phone or laptop out of the nearest window.

There is no question that Lovren has not been good enough during his four-year stay at Anfield, particularly when it comes to consistency.

The 28-year-old is more than capable of producing an inspired performance at the back, but equally, he can resemble a pub player.

It is, therefore, wholly understandable why any supporter might have lost patience with Lovren by now, desperate for a new centre-back to come in and forge a menacing partnership with Virgil van Dijk.

Despite Lovren’s shortcomings, he is also nowhere near as a bad as many claim – he is an international defender with 38 caps to his name.

As he took to the field at Anfield on Sunday, as Croatia were beaten 2-0 by Roberto Firmino’s Brazil, it was interesting to watch him in action when you’re not monitoring his every move for the Reds. Croatia to win their opening game against Nigeria 2-0 is 25/4 with RedsBet.

He cut an authoritative figure all afternoon, and he was one of the standout players on the pitch, almost heading his country into a first-half lead in front of the Kop.

It got me thinking: are we overly-harsh on Lovren, as well as our own players in general, because we observe them so closely?

Lovren will never be a great defender, but who’s to say so many of those the Reds reportedly want would be so superior to him?

Those who loathe him will pick out 100 names, many of whom they’ve probably barely seen, but it is lazy to assume they would do a better job.

This is an attack-minded Liverpool side that can leave its centre-backs exposed, which undoubtedly works against Lovren at times.

Would Newcastle’s Jamaal Lascelles make fewer mistakes when we are securitising his every move, rather that watching him from time to time for a defence-minded team? Lascelles to join Liverpool this summer is currently at 16/5 with RedsBet.

The same applies to Burnley’s James Tarkowski, playing in an even more negative Burnley outfit, as well as a multitude of foreign players touted with a summer switch to Anfield.

You can’t get away with a thing at Liverpool.

It is no surprise that the best form of Lovren’s Reds career has coincided with the arrival of the monstrous Van Dijk.

The Dutchman has improved all of those around him, and some of Lovren’s performances in the memorable Champions League run were superb.

Let’s not forget he was also arguably the Reds’ star man in the final itself, which is a personal achievement, regardless of the depressing final outcome in Kiev.

Lovren definitely looks more secure than he has in the past, and the arrival of Fabinho from Monaco will only aid his progress.

The reason Liverpool signed him in the first place, back in the summer of 2014, was because of a string of stellar showings for Southampton.

Lovren was helped by having a combative midfield duo in Victor Wanyama and Morgan Schneiderlin in front of him, as well as a reliable centre-back partner in Jose Fonte.

Fabinho’s expertise in a defensive midfield role should help Lovren further – Jordan Henderson is overly-criticised but lacks the same level of defensive nous there – making Liverpool’s back-line less open.

If the Reds can bring in either Alisson Becker or Jan Oblak in goal, it will be another major step in the right direction, and will further help Lovren.

It will be very interesting to see how the Croatian fares at the upcoming World Cup in Russia, with many in his homeland seeing him as a key man. Croatia to win the World Cup is currently at 33/1.

If his performance against Brazil is anything to go by, this could be a summer that sees his confident form continue, and a few more doubters turn to believers.

So does Lovren’s future belong at Liverpool?

On one hand, you have to analyse his entire Reds career and realise that another disastrous display is just around the corner, and that he needs to be moved on.

As a counter argument, his form in 2018 has been very impressive, and at 28, you could argue his best years are just around the corner.

There is a middle ground in all of this, with a squad place merited next season but not a regular starting berth.

It will be interesting to see how he fares when further improvements are made within the team, however, and it wouldn’t be a major shock if he kept improving because of it.

Like a lot of players at top clubs, he can do a more than solid job if there is greatness around him.

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