- Squad Number6
Liverpool continued their recruitment drive for the 2014-15 season by landing powerful centre-back Dejan Lovren from Southampton.
The Croatian international boasts a gleaming CV, which includes Champions League and World Cup experience.
Strong, dominant in the air and offering a composed presence, Lovren also boasts great leadership qualities, which helped him make a rapid rise to playing top-level football.
Born in the town of Zenica, on July 5 1989, Lovren began his youth career at NK Karlovac. By 2004 he had alerted the attention of Dinamo Zagreb after impressing their academy coach whilst playing against them.
Indeed, such was his rise to prominence, he was even included in their senior squad shortly before his 17th birthday.
At the start of the 2007-08 season – his first full professional campaign – Lovren was loaned out to newly promoted NK Inter Zapresic, where he gained vital top-flight experience by starting 29 out of a possible 33 league games as the team finished in 11th position.
After impressing in his season-long loan, Dinamo decided to give Lovren the chance to become part of their title-winning side at the age of just 19.
The defender did not waste his opportunity, quickly becoming a regular for his parent club both domestically and in Europe, where he scored his debut goal for the club in the UEFA Cup, and helped Dinamo clinch a third successive league crown.
In 2009, Lovren finally got the call-up to represent Croatia’s senior side, making the squad for the 2010 World Cup qualifier against Belarus, although he would actually make his debut two months later in a friendly against Qatar, appearing as a second-half substitute.
In January 2010, after making a total of 66 appearances for Dinamo, Dejan moved to France and a new chapter with Lyon. Adjusting to Ligue 1 football, he made his debut in the Coupe de France away to AS Monaco, then played a further eight times in the second half of the league campaign.
In his first full campaign at the Stade Gerland, Lovren progressed quickly, playing regularly and starring in the Champions League, in which he scored his first goal – away to Benfica – as Lyon reached the last 16 before bowing out at the hands of Real Madrid.
Lovren scored his first international goal with a thumping header in a 3-1 win over Malta as Croatia marched on towards qualification for Euro 2012. He was named in Slaven Bilic’s final 23-man squad for the tournament held in Poland and Ukraine, but unfortunately had to withdraw before it began due to an Achilles tendon injury.
Back at club level, Lovren helped Lyon secure third place in Ligue 1 for the 2012-13 season, and also bagged his second international goal – a rocket of a strike – against Joe Allen’s Wales in a 2014 World Cup qualifier.
Having made more than 70 appearances in France, the Premier League beckoned as Southampton swooped to secure his signature.
His adaptation to England was typically seamless and he continued to show the form which made him one of the most coveted defenders in Europe – appearing 31 times and scoring twice, one of which was at Anfield as the Reds suffered their first home defeat of the 2013-14 season with a 1-0 reversal against the Saints.
The centre-back’s impressive form ensured he was an obvious inclusion for Croatia’s World Cup squad this summer – and Brendan Rodgers pinpointed Lovren as the man to bolster the defensive ranks at Anfield, sealing his signature in July 2014.
The No.6 made his debut in a red shirt in a victory over his former club Southampton at Anfield on August 17, 2014, and scored his first goal for the club in the Capital One Cup win over Swansea City.
Injuries meant that the centre-back’s first season in Red hadn’t quite gone to plan. Lovren regained his place in the lineup for the first three games of the 2015–16 season and performed well securing two clean sheets and seven points. However, following a pair of defeats toWest Ham United and rivals Manchester United in which the defence conceded six goals, Lovren again lost his place to Mamadou Sakho. On 8 November he came on as a substitute for Sakho in a 2–1 defeat to Crystal Palace at Anfield, with Sakho sustaining a knee injury that ruled him out for two months. On 13 December, in a 2–2 draw against West Bromwich Albion, Lovren was stretchered off the pitch in the 79th minute due to injury and was replaced by Divock Origi. The following 14 April, Lovren scored a stoppage-time winning goal in a 4–3 Europa League quarter-final win over Borussia Dortmund. Having endured a difficult start to his career at Liverpool, by the end of the 2015–16 season under Jürgen Klopp, Lovren was described as having transformed into a “calm and composed” leader on the pitch by the Liverpool Echo.
Dejan goes into the 2016/17 season with a much healthier reputation and has a chance to gain himself a place in the starting line up alongside one of Matip, Sakho or Klavan.