Dejan Lovren has admitted that he wanted to leave Liverpool in the summer. The Croatian centre-half is no longer the first choice at the club after dropping behind Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, and Joel Matip in the pecking order. Yet, a move did not materialise since Liverpool were not ready to let the player leave.
After spending extravagantly in the previous two summers, Liverpool had a low-key window in which the club spent less than £5 million on new players. Jurgen Klopp was aware that the club would not be able to challenge for the domestic titles and defend the Champions League without signing new players. The lack of the same made it even more crucial to not lose players. According to Sky Sports, Lovren said:
“I am not the kind of player that likes to be benched and earn money. Some people around me advised me ‘what do you care? You are in a big club, shut up, take the money’ – but I am not happy on the bench.
“I feel very happy because all the time I felt LFC was by me. I respect that a lot. Klopp told me ‘listen, buddy, you are a top-class player. We will not let you go on loan. We need you’.”
Since making the switch from Southampton in 2014 for around £20 million, Lovren has been a regular first team player. He has featured in more than 25 Premier League games in three out of the five seasons he has spent at Liverpool. However, the previous campaign was by far his most disappointing after making just 13 appearances in the league. The stable backline involving Virgil van Dijk was a key factor behind Lovren being unable to get much game time.
At 30 years, the former Lyon defender is aware that his playing days – especially at the top level – is very short. In order to make the most of the remaining days, Lovren had to leave even if it meant taking a sizeable drop from his £8 million yearly salary. It is understood that the player had a number of offers from clubs like Roma and Bayer Leverkusen. However, a move never materialised due to two factors: the player being unwilling to drop wages and Klopp’s plea to stay.
Apart from the yearly wages of €9 million, Lovren was also requesting a signing on fee of €1 million. Even though the player had a sizeable transfer value since his contract was not to expire until 2021, clubs were not ready to yield to his demands.
Bayer Leverkusen would have taken the player on a season-long loan. The Bundesliga team were even ready to be around £2.5 million as a loan fee. However, sending Lovren out would have severely weakened the team at the back if there were a couple of injuries along the way.
Crucially, Klopp’s carefully measured words seem to have had a far greater impact on the player. Since coming from Borussia Dortmund, Klopp has been a remarkable manager. Very few players have had the disappointment of not being picked on a regular basis, as he has been able to keep most players on his side. If the team were to play a high intensity and attacking football, a huge amount of commitment is required from all players on the pitch. Even if there was a lack of intensity from one player, it would not have brought us the same kind of success that we have achieved under the German.
Lovren is yet to feature for the club this season, but expect more opportunities for the 30-year-old once the Champions League starts.