Ever since Jamie Carragher retired, Liverpool just haven’t looked the same at the back. For a team that once prided themselves on defensive solidarity, shipping 50-goals last season came as a shock to the system.
Maybe it lost them the title, maybe it didn’t — you can pretty much debate that until you’re blue in the face. Now matter what side of the fence you fall on, the fact of the matter is that Reds boss Brendan Rodgers wasn’t about to go through another season with his back line looking like mushy pudding and has spent a large portion of the summer tracking, negotiating and hashing out a deal Southampton for defender Dejan Lovren. These things take time, but as of yesterday, that chase is well and truly over.
Video courtesy of Rayted Are
Not that the Northern Irishman had to try to hard to convince the Croatian hardman to trade the South Coast for Merseyside — he was pretty much hooked long before we even declared an interest.
“I played there last season in front of the crowd singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. That is something very special for every player, every sportsman and every fan. I can’t wait to get started” he told the clubs official website when asked what he looked forward to most in playing for the Reds. “I know we have millions and millions of supporters – Liverpool is more than a club.”
“We have spoken a little bit” he said when asked about Brendan Rodgers plans for the coming season. “Liverpool have already bought five players, so you can see the club has big ambitions to carry on and not stop here. Of course, I want to be part of the club’s ambitions.”
That, of course, includes playing in the Champions League. After finishing runners-up to eventual champions Manchester City in the race for the title last year, the Reds are returning to Europe’s most prestigious club competition for the first time since 2009 and that’s rumoured to be one of the major factors that Lovren considered in switching the South Coast for Merseyside.
“I’m a defender but I don’t really like to talk about my qualities, as I want to show them on the pitch” he enthused when asked about his playing style. “The fans will know from the first minute that I’m a player that will give 100 per cent on the pitch, who will really give everything for the lads.”
Despite the wealth of attacking talent that the Anfield outfit have procured this season, bringing in the big Croatian may be their most astute — and important — move in the market to date. Although the departure of Luis Suarez will force a tactical reshuffle up top, sorting out the back of the park has always been the number one concern for a large swathe of Liverpool fans and the signing of Lovren, who made his class and quality well known with the Saint’s last year, is a massive step towards that.
He may be the first, but you really get the feeling that he won’t be the last defensive signing that Rodgers and company brings in this summer. Regardless, if he can marshal the troops half as well as Carragher could, then regardless who else is back there, we’ll be far better off.