The Lovrenaissance of Dejan has been one of the most compelling Liverpool storylines since Jürgen Klopp took over last October. Looking a combination of hapless and overconfident under Brendan Rodgers - getting torched by mid-level attackers before thumping overly ambitious crossfield balls out of touch - the Croatian had most Reds fans assuming he'd lose his spot in the side and be moved on in January. Most Reds fans have been forced to chow down some crow since the German's arrival, as Lovren steadily built up momentum and by the end of the season looked every bit the starting centre-back his former manager had attempted to convince us he was.
Pinning the entirety of Lovren's improvement on Klopp's management might be doing the former Southampton man a disservice, but the player himself identifies the combination of Klopp's perfectionism and humanism as a driving force behind the players' desire to perform for their manager:
“He is a perfectionist and so everyone wants to be like him.
“You want to give perfection during training and give 100 per cent on the pitch. It is great to see how intense he is on the touchline.
“He is really emotional and shows that in every part of the game. There are a lot of things that I have learnt from him but he is not just a good manager, he is a good man.
“I will never forget he gave me a couple of days off when I had a problem with my daughter and she was ill and in hospital. She needed an operation.
“It was at the time of the Augsburg game away in February and he said to me, ‘Go to Croatia. Be with your daughter’. These things are big for a player. He showed his personality then.”
When a manager places the kinds of demands on his players' bodies that Klopp does, this kind of interpersonal connection goes a long way; fighting not only for the wages, the points, the shirt, the teammates, or the fans, but also for a boss who exhibits consideration and affection to his players. It's reminiscent of the kind of bond Diego Simeone seems to forge with his players, and which has seen his Atletico Madrid side consistently punch above their weight in both domestic and continental competition. Playing styles aside, the comparison is apt in more way than one, and hopefully, the Reds will achieve a similar calibre of success.