DEJAN Lovren’s new four-year deal — worth approximately £100,000 per week — did not come as a huge surprise to many, writes IAN RYAN. And, given how split the fan base is when it comes to judging the merits of our current number six, the immediate fume that followed was no great shock either.
I’m not one for sitting on the fence, and I found myself thinking Lovren must have the greatest agent since Tom Cruise was screaming “Show me the money” down the phone to Cuba Gooding Jr. According to national media reports, Lovren is now the fifth best paid defender in the Premier League, with only David Luiz, Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany and John Terry earning more.
Maybe I expect too much: I want FSG to be ballsy and shell out cash — paying big wages along the way — but then I question their judgement when they do. But, hey, I’m a football fan — it comes with the job. I guess I just want Liverpool to be more consistent in the approach to such matters.
Performances from the big Croatian over the last three years have often been far from perfect but his progress under Jürgen Klopp had, at times, offered a glimpse of why the Reds topped up their Southampton loyalty card in the summer of 2014.
For some, heads had well and truly fallen off by Friday dinner time. Maybe only our fan base could turn a new contract for a first=choice centre back into a full-blown DEFCON 1 situation. There’s a discussion to be had on the merits of the deal, but the reaction on social media from some bordered on the ridiculous.
In Lovren we’re not talking about an awful player, but maybe not a great one either and that’s the problem. Whichever camp you prefer to sit in, there are interesting views to consider but first let me nail my colours to the mast.
Over the past 18 months there is little doubt that the Croatian, capped 31 times by his country, has improved his levels of performance to the point where most sensible fans now don’t want to punch themselves in the face Jamie Vardy-style every time they see his name on the team sheet.
That wasn’t always the case.
He initially struggled under Brendan Rodgers but has been able to find a more consistent level under Klopp.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean he is good enough to start every week. A major concern is that we often accept mediocrity as a solution to a problem as long as that solution is a doing a decent job. It is a point that goes wider than Lovren and could easily be applied to a number of positions within this current Liverpool squad.
I am delighted and proud to confirm my loyalty to @liverpoolfc, the Manager, the Team and above all the fans has been formally extended. My drive and determination to achieve great things in the years ahead has never been greater. I would also like to thank my family and friends for all your love and support. To celebrate our amazing 125 year history, next season will be kicking off with a new kit. #YNWA
Lovren could easily occupy a place in a team pushing to be the sixth or seventh best in the league and be one of their star men. There, his lapses in concentration would go slightly under the radar with a more forgiving set of fans who aren’t constantly dreaming of winning a league title for the first time in nearly three decades.
I have no issue with Lovren extending his stay but I’d prefer it to be for the right price and I don’t see him starting as first choice when August comes around. However, I could easily get on board with him as our third or fourth choice option — playing games across a number of competitions next season to allow one of our first choice centre-backs a chance to put their feet up against Brighton after (hopefully) a Champions League game on the Wednesday night. After all, there is no denying he has the ability to put in a nine out of 10 performance. His recent showing in the Merseyside Derby when the current top scorer in the league did not get a sniff provides evidence to support this argument.
Unfortunately, concentration for a centre-back breeds consistency and that is where the flaws in Lovren’s game start to raise their ugly heads.
All too often he will stop doing the basics that often separate a decent central defender from a great one and serve up a performance such as the one against Crystal Palace. Broadly speaking, we’re all in this to win the league but I’ve yet to be convinced that he’s capable of operating consistently at an elite level to the extent where you win a championship with him at the heart of your defence.
While I accept professional football is a far cry from the real working environment of every day life, I still want to see individuals operating consistently at the peak of their powers before they warrant a huge increase in salary. Maybe that’s naïve, maybe it’s wishful thinking or maybe it’s both but it’s how I like to view the working world.
The inevitable shouts will come — it’s not your money so why do you care? But, like it or not, how much clubs spend on wages and transfers will always create debate and discussion. After all, the club will have a budget, and paying a potential back-up defender — and an injury-prone one at that — £5m a year or £20m over the course of his contract feels slightly excessive and even a touch negligent.
If we are to mount a decent title challenge next season then I doubt I’m alone in thinking our defence needs a fair bit of surgery over the summer. My initial view on Joel Matip was that he had all the makings of a great defender. However, he too has shown frailties in recent months and there’s now an argument to be made that Liverpool could benefit from two new quality reinforcements at the centre of their defence if they are to challenge on all fronts next season.
People will say that the Crystal Palace game was the first defeat for the Lovren-Matip partnership in 14 games, and it’s an argument with some substance. However, this same partnership struggles to put five or six games together in a row and you don’t win titles with defenders who lack the robustness to get through a season unscathed.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand the need to pay the best wages to keep your key players and that the key to securing new talent will often rest on which club is paying the most money. But I also want my club to be slightly more savvy when it comes to doing deals. Spend big, spend clever and spend it on the right players.
There still feels like so much inconsistency to our negotiating strategy when it comes to getting bang for our buck. I must stress this article is not about criticising Lovren’s wage demands. He’ll ask for a certain amount and it’s up to the club if they pay it. But I’d like us to do things better.
There’s a very realistic chance that Lovren starts next season as third-choice centre back, yet he will seemingly be earning more money than Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Jerome Boeteng and Toby Alderweireld. These lads are in the top bracket of centre-backs in world football.
I understand football can be a complicated business but even so that’s a tough one to make sense of. I struggle to envisage a scenario where another elite level club comes in and offers Dejan £100,000 per week, so could the club have negotiated a better deal? Should it even matter to us?
Liverpool certainly seem to have taken that stance with Emre Can when I’d argue that is a more crucial deal to get done when looking to the long-term future. That’s my point about consistency and judgement. Under the current FSG model, how much you pay certain players will surely have an impact on future deals — whether it be rewarding other first-team players or attracting new ones to the club in the summer. Overpaying on one deal can impact future business — even in an era when the Premier league continues to be awash with cash.
I just want the best possible players playing for this club to ensure we get back to where we need to be. I think it’s appropriate and absolutely right that fans question matters relating to both on-the-field and off-the-field activity. I’m a big fan of our manager but do I agree with every decision he makes? No, of course not and that’s ok. Same goes for the owners.
Four more years of Dejan Lovren then — the debate will rage on.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
Like The Anfield Wrap on Facebook
And on we move to Virgil Van Dijk…..26, 12 national caps, 2 prizes in Scotland and currently on injured at a mid-table premier league side.
Dunno why but I feel this whole conversation being repeated soon enough.
until we get rid of Moreno, mignolet and lovren – pretty much the last remnants of Rodgers surprisingly enough – I don’t think this shit will stop.
We’re third in the league for fucks sake. If lovren gets a new deal then so be it.
I think the new deal makes a lot of sense – as you say, Lovren would be considered a top defender at a mid level Prem side. We all know that he will be third choice next season – it makes sense to incentivise a proven LFC defender who is competent rather than have him lured to first choice CB roles in other Prem teams. It’s far cheaper than shelling out for a new CB to complement a preferred Matip/VVD next season
Will he be third choice though?
Do you pay a bench warmer 100k a week?
I hope you’re right.
He is the new Martin skrtl, capable of producing top class performances followed by utter dogshit and when he does that he tends to implode. Don’t see him being a regular starter, hope he’s not anyway, just about decent backup, just don’t rate him.
Lovren is inconsistent and a 3rd string CB.
My guess is that Klopp has earmarked the first and second place players. Not sure of VVD, as it’s the usual hype for yet another Southampton player based on some stats.
Plus offering that type of money helps keep him quiet in the mean time give him incentive to step up when needed.
Lovren is useless under pressure so it may be a plan to alleviate that. How costly or worthy this incentive is, remains to be seem.
WartFud up next, so hope Lovren can do his job well.
Up the Reds!!!
I agree with most things in the article, but I keep wondering if the best centre-backs in the world wouldn’t struggle if they played in the style LFC plays in. Conversely, since we are not blessed with the best CBs in the world, I don’t know why we continue with a system that constantly leaves them exposed and embarrassed on the field, especially against teams that counter with pace… I don’t think I’d ask for less than what Lovren’s asking if I were him, and FSG may not be in a position to offer less, because I struggle to think of many CB’s who would be so willing to play in a system that seems to do very little for their reputation.
Stupid amount of money for an average centre-back. Would he not of accepted 80k? Would we have risked losing him in a years time? Let’s be honest he’s never going on to a bigger club than Liverpool.
And we’re tied to him if it doesn’t work out next season because no one else is going to pay him anywhere close to 100k /week.
Would rankle less if it was a one off but we’re chronic for it.
If you give an ordinary player 100k a week all you’ll end up with is a player who thinks he’s a 100k a week player. That in no way means he will ever live up to that expectation. I think we’ve all seen enough of Lovren over three years to know he’s not worth that kind of cash. LFC settles for rank mediocrity once more. Funny if it wasn’t so tragic. I’ve seen this movie before.
‘I struggle to envisage a scenario where another elite level club comes in and offers Dejan £100,000 per week’
This Ian, this!
Plus they’d have to stump up a transfer fee so in total, Lovren moving would have cost another club circa £30m (£10m fee plus wages of 100k). Really? There were clubs willing to do that?! If so, get them back on the blower and tell them they can have Moreno for £50m cos they’re clearly fuckin morons.
This is worrying on lots of levels. There’s no way we’re paying him £100k/week if Klopp doesn’t envisage him as first choice. So, along with Mignolet (handful of decent games recently aside), we have given massive long-term contracts to a keeper and CB no other top 6 side would touch with a shitty stick. And this is how we’re going to fix our Achilles heal – by keeping the same mediocre players who’ve been central to conceding 45-50 league goals a season for the past 3 years! Incredible! Both are roughly halfway through their careers and both are 4 or 5 out of ten players. In 30+ years of watching football I’ve never known 4 or 5/10 players to suddenly become 8 or 9/10 players halfway through their careers. But that’s what we need to happen with these two if we are to win the title. Hmmm……
I’m not Houllier’s biggest fan, but of the things he got right, his approach to the defence was perfect. He simply bought an entire new backline – keeper and defence – when he arrived cos he knew the personnel there had developed too many bad habits and it would infect new arrivals. That’s what seems to happen all our new defenders/keepers. Karius wasn’t making new types of mistakes when he came in, they were Mignolet-type mistakes (inconsistent decision-making, dodgy positioning, coming for balls he will never get to, etc). Equally, Matip seems to be aping Lovren-type errors with positioning and concentration.
So now we are stuck with an error-prone keeper and defender for the foreseeable cos no team is going to come along and offer them more than they’re now on (well, maybe some Chinese team….)
Klopp’s approach to the defence is, at best, extremely questionable. Not just giving these new contracts and refusing to buy a proven keeper, but even his comment last week about how the fans would have been happy to award Lovren a 20 year contract after he scored the winner in the Dortmund game. Tongue-in-cheek it may have been, but Lovren was part of a defence that conceded three goals that night. Personally I would have been happy to thank him for the winner and sell him the next day!
And perhaps worst of all, this allows FSG to claim ‘look, we are investing heavily in the first team!’ Well sorry, you’re not fooling anyone.