Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren will leave Anfield as a semi-ironic legend

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It seemed likely that Dejan Lovren would leave Liverpool before the European transfer window closed earlier this week, but the deadline passed before a deal could be concluded.

The Croatia international has expressed his relief that the saga is now over and simultaneously spoke of his discontent for his current standing at the club.

I am not one of those who wants to sit on the bench for two years and take money. I just couldn’t do that. 

“Yes, some people have told me, whatever you care about, you’re in the biggest club, take the money and keep quiet. I told them, people, that’s not what I want. I am a man who loves inner happiness.”

Unless there is a dramatic change in the pecking order at Anfield, one which sees Lovren looking vertically up at the likes of Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, who appear to be Jurgen Klopp’s primary defensive options, a sale could be looming on the horizon.

Lovren may not have overwhelmed the supporters with his ability nor commanded a sense of respect and trust that even remotely resembles that which van Dijk proudly dons on Merseyside, but his legacy should be one defined by respect and admiration no less.

After all, he has won the Champions League during his time at Anfield and furthermore been involved in two other European finals. In his five years at Liverpool, he has done nothing but wear his heart on his sleeve and given his all.

It will be intriguing all the same to detect the faint trace of sarcasm in many of the farewells.

That’s because during the centre-back’s tenure he has been sometimes excellent and even very occasionally imperious. But he has also been rash, and when he has been rash his head has ‘gone’, making him a liability for the duration of that particular game.

At times he has been comically bad, usually as a result of complicating a simple art. It has not been unknown for Lovren to find himself in no man’s land, leaving his attacker in an acre of space. It has not been unknown for him to attempt a fancy flick or turn when the coaching manual demanded row Z.

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He leaves as the last of Liverpool’s infamously shaky defence, that which once contained Alberto Moreno in constant fancy-dress as a headless chicken, and Simon Mignolet, flappy and uncertain.

Going back a little further there was Mamadou Sakho too, who tested nerves as par for the course.

He leaves as a failure, in context at least.

When he arrived from St Mary’s it was on the back of a tremendous campaign where he spearheaded the Saints’ charge to eighth. He was a warrior then. A combative warrior with the ball-playing skills of a midfielder, achieving a pass success of 82% in 2013/14.

However, he never played ten consecutive games for the Reds. In the event, his name would so often be greeted with a murmur of anxiety after being announced on the Anfield tannoy.

There is lastly one other thing: he will leave as a semi-ironic legend.

Partly, that’s because the calamities can be laughed at – even loved in a weird way – in hindsight. Mostly though it’s because it would be quite unfair to paint the defender as too much of a flop. As stated, he could be imperious on his day too.

Check out fan reaction to Liverpool’s Super Cup win in the video below…

In April 2016 an unbelievable contest saw Liverpool stage a dramatic comeback over Borussia Dortmund to make progress in their Europa League quarter-final possible.

At 3-3 they still needed a fourth goal and time was nearly up. It was Lovren who rose to a corner to thunder it home and he ran roaring in celebration, deranged. He owned Anfield in that moment. He was a warrior.

Only last summer he was appearing in a World Cup final.

Indeed only last summer he was insisting he was ‘one of the best defenders in the world’. Now a downgrade to Serie A has eluded him and he has been left as the club’s firm fourth choice option in his favoured position.

Where did it all go wrong for him? Did it even go wrong at all?

Like every fascinating player, the answers are hard to man-mark.

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