Dejan Lovren is nearing the exit at Anfield as Liverpool and Roma iron out a £15 million transfer for the defender. If Liverpool are able to agree on the fee, it is a great financial move to cash-in on the 30-year-old.
Lovren has been at Liverpool since 2014 when he arrived from Southampton for £22.77m. The centre-back only has two years left on his contract and now a fourth-choice central defender, Lovren has the chance to play every match for Roma.
Despite the financial reasons behind Liverpool’s willingness to sell Lovren, it must be asked whether selling him is the right move currently?
Last season, Liverpool got into a slight mess with injuries sidelining both Joe Gomez and Joel Matip. Right-back Nathaniel Clyne was loaned out to Bournemouth and Liverpool lacked depth in defence for several weeks. Lovren played next to Virgil van Dijk in Matip’s absence, and later, dropped to the bench due to his own health and form issues.
Liverpool have a strong trio of centre-backs to choose from currently with Van Dijk, Gomez, and Matip able to step into the centre of defence. However, Gomez and Matip do not have sterling injury records. The duo is one strong challenge away from going down with a lengthy injury.
Matip broke his collarbone last season in December when Koulidou Koulibaly collided with him in the final Champions League group stage match. Gomez suffered a fractured lower leg after a seemingly innocuous tackle during Liverpool’s early December match against Burnley.
The Reds weathered the storm without both defenders, but their absences were felt. Now, Lovren is set to leave and Liverpool cannot replace him with a centre-back in the transfer market until January.
Lovren’s departure will give both Sepp van den Berg and Ki-Jana Hoever an opportunity to fill the fourth centre-back role. Both prospects are extremely promising. Like Gomez, Hoever has the ability to play across the backline. He was extremely impressive against Lyon in preseason playing on the right side of a back four.
Of the two players, Van Den Berg is the one most ready to step into a regular first-team role. Or, at least a role in which he may find himself on the bench if needed. Van Den Berg is just 17 but already experienced first-team football in the Netherlands with PEC Zwolle. The teenage defender played 22 times last season for PEC Zwolle after being promoted to the first-team halfway through the season.
Van Den Berg is 6ft 2in and capable of dominating penalty areas on set pieces. At 17, he may not be done growing either. Van Den Berg’s experience of playing in the Eredivisie makes him more likely to gain first-team opportunities. However, Hoever is a possibility at right-back if the Reds need a player to fill in at the position for Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Is it a gamble for Liverpool to move Lovren on? Yes, but with youth coming through that can be developed and nurtured, Liverpool’s decision to buy young players may be ready to bear fruit. Liverpool are ready to deploy some of the young players they have collected and the future looks promising.