It’s a well worn path; excel at medium-level club, earn an expensive move to a big club, then struggle to replicate that form under the pressure at said big club. Turning the situation around isn’t easy, but it can be done and in this case it’s now or never for one Liverpool defender.
Dejan Lovren was hunted by the Reds in the summer of 2014 after the Croatian’s brilliant debut Premier League season at Southampton.
No matter what you think of the infamous Liverpool transfer committee, opposition from fans thinking that £20m was an inflated fee to pay for a polished 25-year-old centre-half was minimal.
On the evidence of his St Mary’s showings it looked like Liverpool were getting a highly-rated player who could give his best years to the club.
Whether it was the price tag or the coaching methods employed at Liverpool, or some unknown issues, Lovren failed to replicate his form under Brendan Rodgers and quickly became a scapegoat for the team’s defensive failings last season.
This season Lovren has shown flashes of returning to his best, but is behind both Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho in the pecking order under Jurgen Klopp.
Sakho in particular has been immense for the German and has now caused his manager and Reds fans great anguish by being ruled out for eight weeks just as his Anfield career was finally in full flow.
Lovren is the obvious candidate to step into the breach while the Frenchman recovers from a knee problem in the run up to Christmas.
If he fails to perform in the coming weeks, there is a strong line of thinking that Klopp may even decide to move the former Lyon defender on in January and bring in some of his own trusted targets.
However, Lovren can draw inspiration from the man he is replacing. Sakho was bought a year earlier than Lovren, but for a similarly plump price which promised great things from the one-time Paris Saint-Germain skipper.
Although he featured in half of Liverpool’s Premier League games as the Merseyside club went within a gnat’s whisker of landing the title, his displays were a little suspect and were papered over in large part by an awesome attack in 2013/14.
Again he showed his capabilities in spurts last season, but it wasn’t until 2015/16 that he has finally begun delivering consistently high performance levels, arguably being the most improved player of the Rodgers era since Klopp took over.
Lovren has plenty of ability too, but unless he shows it regularly it won’t only be Liverpool’s 11/5-rated bid for the top four that suffers, his future at the club could be a short one.
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