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14th Aug 2019

Farewell Dejan Lovren, a defender whose passion would be his downfall

Wayne Farry

After more than five years, Dejan Lovren’s Liverpool journey is coming to an end.

Dejan Lovren moved to Southampton in the summer of 2013 from Olympique Lyonnais, and it took just one season in the Premier League to convince Liverpool to part with £20 million for his services.

The Croatian was the third Saints player that summer to move to Anfield after Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert just weeks before, and his arrival was hyped, despite how we perceive him now.

In his first season in the Premier League Lovren was lauded for his all-round performances and his impressive command and leadership of the Southampton defence.

Fast-forward less than a year and things were bad. Lovren was dropped from the Liverpool first team as early as October 2014, before missing the spot kick that eliminated them from the Europa League against Besiktas and, eventually, being quite harshly named among the 20 worst signings in the Premier League era.

He would continue to break back into the Liverpool team, mostly when players were injured, before inevitably being dropped because of a game-changing error which gifted a goal to the opposition.

There were moments of true brilliance, where Lovren displayed the level of cool regularly shown my the man who would go on to foreshadow his departure from the club, Virgil van Dijk.

Lovren could be great, but more often than not he would capitulate at the last minute, overcome by his body’s unwillingness to carry out the action he had planned.

Eventually Lovren’s errors would become something of a meme, his every touch of the ball attracting jeers and anticipatory cheers from the crowd.

The impact of the ridicule was clear for all to see. Lovren cut a dejected figure on the pitch, but while others would shy away from situations, he dived in head first. It was the kind of reaction that deserved praise.

Unfortunately for Lovren it was also one that both exacerbated his issues and will probably go on to define his spell at Liverpool for years to come.

Lovren was always so desperate to succeed at Liverpool, particularly in the aftermath of one of his many high-profile errors, that the rational move to bring his game back to basics and focus on fundamentals was summarily overridden by his desire to atone for his mistakes.

Hesitation is the death knell for all defenders, but so too is hastiness.

For every tackle mulled over for just a moment too long there is another lunged into without thought, or a position occupied without consideration for the space left unoccupied behind.

While Lovren could be elegant in defence, in both his early and more recent years at Anfield, that desire to have his name uttered without being prefixed by ‘the calamitous’ meant that it was only ever a matter of time before another error was made.

As he looks set to depart for AS Roma and finally bring down the curtain to his time at Liverpool, he will go down in the history books as something of a failure at the club.

But it wasn’t for the lack of trying. If anything, it was because he tried too hard.

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