Southampton skin-shed will see Koeman fail to emulate Pochettino

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Whispers in the press that a re-booted Liverpool move for Southampton’s Dejan Lovren is ‘imminent’ should be giving Saints supporters the willies, especially considering the distinct lack of centre-half options at the club.

Last season’s eighth-placed Premier League outfit are now just 4/7 to fall out of the top 10 in 2014/15.

New boss Ronald Koeman looks to have done a decent job replacing new Reds duo Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana with Eredivisie pair Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic, who scored 39 league goals between them for Feyenoord and Twente respectively during their last campaigns in Holland.

However, former Barcelona and Oranje centre-half Koeman looks set to be thwarted in his attempts to convince Croatia World Cup starter Lovren to stick around St Mary’s.

The 25-year-old stated at the start of this month that his ‘head is already at Liverpool’, and the rest of him is hotly tipped to follow after reports that Southampton will accept a £16m bid from the Anfield club.

That would leave Koeman with Jose Fonte, who is so well thought of in football circles that relegated Cardiff have been linked with a bid for his services, as well as Maya Yoshida and Jos Hooiveld, who made a mere 10 appearances combined last term under old boss Mauricio Pochettino.

Rumours abound that Southampton will throw just shy of £10m at either Cardiff for Steven Caulker or Aston Vila for Ron Vlaar, but those clubs posted the second and fourth-worst goals-against tallies in the top flight last term.

Furthermore, Caulker averaged just over one tackle and one interception per match, in a team that had to do plenty of defending, while Vlaar fared a little better with two of each, according to WhoScored.com.

Lovren beat both, with two tackles and 2.7 interceptions per match, and while his two goals in 2013/14 pales into insignificance next to Caulker’s five top-flight strikes, it’s his prowess at the back that will be missed.

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