He may have been an unmitigated disaster in his first season, and -- despite the Lovrenaissance most definitely being a thing — he'll likely never quite look a £20m centre-back with any consistency, but Dejan Lovren is doing pretty well these days. The Reds won't win any defensive stalwart awards, but they can keep it tight at the back when they put their mind to it, and the burgeoning partnership between Lovren and Bosman signing Joël Matip has been a considerable factor in that.
Given his aggressive and at times overconfident mentality, it always seemed reasonable to expect Lovren would do best with a composed presence by his side, comfortable with dropping back and covering space and runners as Dejan dashes into action. As it turns out, not only does Matip possess the perfect demeanour to partner the Croatian, he also speaks the right language.
“In situations where you need to speak quickly we will use German," revealed Lovren. "I might shout to tell him that somebody is coming behind to close him down.
“It seems to work, especially when we are up for corners and I can communicate with him about where to go. If it’s in German, the opponents can’t understand what we are saying.”
It might seem odd that a Cameroonian and a Croatian would bond over a common language not native to the country in which they currently reside, but it makes perfect sense, since Lovren spent seven years in Germany as his family fled his homeland, and Matip was born and raised there. It's an example of how football's globality can be a beneficial characteristic of the sport and how it can be a positive influence on the people engaged in it.
“We’ve definitely developed a nice relationship," he continued. "I’m really enjoying playing with him. He’s a cool guy, really calm and we already know each other much better and how we both like to play.
“Hopefully that will continue for a couple of years.”
A couple? That's an odd bit of phrasing, Dejan. If the two of you defend the Reds all the way to the trophy, it might well be more than that.