Ronald Koeman has opened the door to Dejan Lovren's potential Liverpool switch by hinting an improved offer may be enough to secure the Croatian defender's signature.
The new Saints boss recently provided a number of interesting quotes to fuel speculation. As reported by Gordon Simpson of the Daily Echo (via ESPN FC), Koeman indicates Lovren can move if a higher bid is received:
"If they are interested, they have to come with a bid, and a good one, and then we can speak about that, because the player likes to move," said Koeman.
The Dutchman also spoke to Sky Sports News, confirming he is yet to receive a new bid for the centre-back:
We have had no bid from Liverpool for Lovren, that is the situation. If that does not change, he will continue to play at Southampton. We know there is a lot of interest in our players, I think that is normal. But we have to wait, we work on the team.
Interestingly, the Daily Star's Gary Jones insists a deal has already been struck. He suggests a £16 million fee, potentially rising to £20 million, will be announced across "the next 48 hours." If true, Daniel Agger's future may be called into doubt after the Danish star confirmed to BT he is "considering things," saying his lack of playing time last season "is not acceptable," per Jones' report.
Is Dejan Lovren worth £16-20 million?
Brendan Rodgers will be keen to strengthen his back four after Liverpool shipped 50 goals on their way to second place last season. Only Tottenham conceded more in the top eight, letting in 51, as Liverpool suffered 13 more goals against than champions Manchester City, seven more than the hapless Manchester United and two more than 11th-placed Crystal Palace.
The club's ability to score goals nearly offset this weakness, with 101 strikes across the season amounting to just one less than City. Rodgers has worked hard to bring in new attacking options after the departure of Luis Suarez, with Rickie Lambert, Lazar Markovic and Loic Remy likely to challenge for places next season, per Sky Sports.
Emre Can adds to Liverpool's options in midfield, but Rodgers needs further enhancements upon the club's Champions League return. As reported by Alex Harris of the Daily Express, Xherdan Shaqiri's name continues to be mentioned, but the Bayern Munich star appears to be edging closer to a Juventus move.
A report by Sky Italia's Gianluca Di Marzio, which was translated by David Amoyal, confirms Juve chiefs will meet with "the intermediaries handling the transfer" on Wednesday, and Roma's interest remains "in the background."
As noted by Metro, Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer recently confirmed "Xherdan is an important player for the future," a quote which forced the Swiss star into dropping a major exit hint on Twitter:
I live in present... Not in future....;-)— Xherdan Shaqiri (@XS_11official) July 15, 2014
Shaqiri's versatility would go down a treat with Rodgers, who could deploy the 22-year-old on the wing or through the centre. His Anfield arrival would force the likes of Lallana, Markovic, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho into battling for places, but this sense of competitiveness is healthy for the improving squad.
Right now, it seems Shaqiri's future is far from confirmed. Rodgers obviously has big plans but will need to act quickly if the youngster is to be acquired. Lovren's deal appears far more straightforward, meaning a slight loosening of the purse would soon see the centre-back brought in.
Major changes continue to take place on Merseyside, as Liverpool look to start the post-Suarez era with an instant dose of success.