Updates from Wednesday, July 30
Lovren had been hoping to join the Reds' squad for the remainder of their US tour, but has been blocked by visa issues. The defender told Sportske novosti, per Elliott Bretland of the Daily Mail:
Unfortunately I could not get a visa straight away.
Therefore I can not join my team-mates in the U.S. I am sad because of that.
'Of course it's not good that I have not joined the team's preparations in the U.S. However, I have plenty of days until their return from the tour.
I will train with the U-21 team in Liverpool. Brendan Rodgers will send a program for me to practice.
First it was Rickie Lambert. Next it was Adam Lallana. And now, Liverpool have continued their raid on Southampton's roster, bringing aboard centre-back Dejan Lovren.
Liverpool confirmed Lovren's addition on the club's Twitter account:
Lovren spoke about his move to Anfield in an interview with the club website:
I'm most looking forward to Anfield, of course. I played there last season in front of the crowd singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. That is something very special for every player, every sportsman and every fan. I can't wait to get started.
Lovren is the latest addition to a Reds side in transition this summer. Liverpool were always going to have a big summer, trying to replicate or better a second-place finish in the Premier League this season while returning to the Champions League. With the added money earned from reaching Europe's elite competition, several big signings were always in the offing.
But with star forward Luis Suarez being sold to Barcelona this summer, the transfer budget was made even larger. Thus far, the Reds have added the Southampton trio along with young, exciting talents in midfielder Emre Can and winger Lazar Markovic.
While many will compare the haul to the group of players Tottenham signed last summer with the money earned from selling Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, most of those players were brought in from outside of the Premier League and spent a season adjusting to England. Not so for Liverpool, which have added three players well accustomed to the style of play in the EPL.
Lovren is a particularly important addition. Often lost in the blur of bright, attacking football that led to 101 goals in 38 league games (second in the Premier League behind Manchester City's 102) was the fact that Liverpool also gave up 50 goals. Lovren will be expected to step in and upgrade a defense in need of patching.
He was excellent for Southampton last season, starting 31 games and scoring two goals, adding an assist and earning a 7.32 average match rating from WhoScored.com. According to the site, he averaged an impressive 2.0 tackles, 2.7 interceptions and 7.7 clearances per match.
He also started all three games for Croatia at this summer's World Cup, but like many of his Croatian teammates his performance wasn't quite up to expectations, as he earned a 6.66 average match rating in Brazil.
While Liverpool likely won't play as open and expansive system as they did last year, tailoring to the talents of Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling, the team isn't going to start parking the bus this year, either. Adding Lovren to the back four should help solidify the defense.
And there will be plenty of competition, as Lovren will join Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger (if he remains with the club).
It's hardly a surprise that he's headed to Liverpool. In early July, Lovren vocally ripped Southampton for failing to inform him about a Liverpool bid to acquire him.
"Frankly, my head is already at Liverpool," he said to the Croatian media, via Sky Sports. "They are one of the biggest clubs in the world and the last time I played at Anfield I got chills when I heard ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.' I would like to listen to it all the time."
That was certainly music to the ears of Liverpool's supporters. Once again, Southampton's loss is Anfield's gain.
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