Dejan Lovren enjoyed good form throughout his first season with Southampton. Unfortunately for the Saints, the defender is now reportedly looking for an escape route with hopes of landing with a Champions League side.
Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail reports the centre-back sent in a transfer request in late May. He explained the reasoning for the decision in subsequent contact with the club, which has yet to confirm the request or his transfer availability:
Dejan Lovren has submitted a formal written transfer request demanding to leave Southampton.
Sportsmail Online can reveal that the central defender wrote an email to executive director Les Reed and chairman Ralph Krueger on May 30 with notice of his desire to leave St Mary's this summer.
The report comes as a bit of surprise because Sky Sports passed along comments Lovren made last month to Croatian outlet Sportske Novosti. At the time, which was only a few weeks before the apparent request, he sounded content with his current club:
I follow the media and I saw that Liverpool is allegedly interested in me. But that is all that I know so far.
I feel great at Southampton and my contract is valid for the next three years.
So the only thing I can say right now is that the club is the one who decides.
Lovren appeared in 32 matches across all competitions for Southampton. Along with his steady play at the back, he also chipped in three goals. He previously played for Dinamo Zagreb and Lyon along with an extended loan stint at Inter Zapresic.
The 24-year-old defender certainly has the skill set to play with a Champions League club, but whether the Saints are willing to sell him already is a question mark. They finished eighth in the Premier League thanks in large part to their strength along the back line.
If Southampton do decide to pursue a sale, he'd surely generate plenty of interest. Anthony Chapman of the Daily Express notes there are already a couple high-profile clubs monitoring the situation very closely:
The Croatia international, 24, only joined the south-coast club last summer for £7million, but is determined to test himself at the highest level, with a number of clubs including Serie A runners-up Roma interested.
However Liverpool are the favourites for his signature after they landed [Rickie] Lambert for £4 million whilst launching a £25 million bid for [Adam] Lallana.
Based on the fact the club has yet to respond to the reported request, it's a saga that could drag on throughout the summer.
Lovren is certainly too busy to deal with the situation right now. He's currently preparing with the Croatia national team for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. His performance in the tournament could impact the transfer both in terms of his desire to leave Southampton and the number of interested clubs.
At 24, Lovren should be just about to enter the prime of his career. That makes a sale even more risky for Southampton, which doesn't want to move him now and watch his value skyrocket over the next couple years.
Though it's a situation to monitor, it doesn't sound like any move is imminent.