The announcement of a new five-year, £100,000-per-week contract for Dejan Lovren is one that has left Liverpool fans scratching their heads; most cannot fathom the logic behind it.
The Croatian has become something of a figure of derision at Anfield, with many feeling he is the root of their defensive issues. The fact is, though, Lovren does not deserve the criticism he receives.
Arriving in the summer of 2014 from Southampton, he endured a disastrous first season at Anfield under Brendan Rodgers.
The Reds, who the year before had missed out on the title in an epic end of season collapse that culminated in Steven Gerrard’s slip, were a disaster that year.
Missing talisman Luis Suarez, the previous season’s failure still hung over them like a dark cloud. A raft of signings, later jettisoned by Jurgen Klopp, failed to make the grade. Lovren was among them, his lofty fee only helping to justify the denigration coming his way.
However, since then, he has performed at a much higher level than many believe. He has certainly improved under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp.
Klopp on Lovren deal: “If you’d asked fans after the Dortmund game they would said give him a 20-year contract.”
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) 28 April 2017
This season he has played admirably in a defence that has struggled throughout. Most of the criticism he receives is based on his past mistakes rather than his current performances.
This is evident in the way in which Joel Matip is currently revered by Liverpool fans despite the fact Lovren beats him in a number of areas this season. On a per game basis the Croat is posting better numbers when it comes to tackling, interceptions, clearances and passing.
Ask any Liverpool fan, though, and they will tell you that Matip has been far the better defender. Nobody questions the Cameroon international being on £100,000 per week wages.
Even in comparison to the league’s best, Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld, Lovren comes out on top in nearly every statistic.
On a per-game basis, he’s winning more tackles, posting more clearances and registering twice as many interceptions.
He’s also got more successful passes per game and a better overall pass success rate than the Belgian. Yet it’s the latter that is highly praised by fans and pundits alike.
Lovren signs new contract. Happy for him. Best club in the world. Hopefully he will repay the faith from club and fans. Needs to step it up
— John Arne Riise (@JARiiseOfficial) 28 April 2017
Jurgen Klopp should also shoulder some responsibility on the matter. Lovren is receiving criticism that he is simply undeserving of, blame that should be directed at his manager.
The German’s philosophy is one that has no interest in the defence. His logic, it seems, is that his ‘Geggenpressing’ approach is the only defensive work his side needs to do.
It was a similar story with Rodgers. He failed to work his on his side’s defensive ability as he focused on helping their attacking strength flourish.
Both manager’s philosophies have caused Liverpool to leak goals and the defence has bore the brunt of the criticism as a result.
Lovren has particularly been targeted but really the defender is taking blame that should be aimed at his current and previous manager; he’s a victim of their tactics.
Sure, it can be argued that he doesn’t deserve £100,000-a-week and has certainly failed to prove he’s a £20million defender.
The evidence is there, though, Lovren does not deserve the wrath that he receives. In fact, the stats alone prove he should be receiving praise and plenty of it.
Perhaps it’s time the Anfield faithful realise what they have rather than continue to put him down. After all, that new deal suggests he’s going to be a regular for some time to come.