When Liverpool first signed Virgil van Dijk from Southampton, many assumed he would end up partnering Joël Matip in Liverpool’s defence. Instead, it’s been Dejan Lovren who appears to have staked a claim to being first choice alongside the towering Dutchman.
Their partnership is still young, and Matip could yet make a case for startin next to Van Dijk, but the early signs in are promising for the partnership. Lovren, though, isn’t taking his place in it for granted, and knows even if he plays well he may not play every game.
“When you’re fit you want to play every game,” Lovren noted, “but with the games week in and week out, it’s not possible to play every game at your best level. Some changes are important and the manager knows when a player is fully fit or he’s a little bit tired.
“He has done it quite well with all these rotations. We learned from last year that you can’t keep all the same players. Somebody will break and we will have many injuries. This season we have managed it quite well. Of course, it depends also on the team.”
Lovren has started two of the last three league games as well as Liverpool’s Champions League tie against Porto, with Liverpool conceding just twice—and with both of those coming against Tottenham in the Premier League—in those four starts.
In a shutout victory over Huddersfield, Lovren started with Matip while Van Dijk rested. Against Southampton, it was Matip who played alongside Van Dijk while Lovren rotated out. Rotation has been key, certainly, but Van Dijk and Lovren have been preferred.
Over the remainder of the season, if that continues to be how any rotation plays out, it will be good news for Lovren. In the short-term, though, he’s just worried about putting in solid performances—and helping his new teammate and defensive partner to adjust.
“I think he’s doing quite well and he’s going to get better and better,” Lovren added. “He’s a top defender, but everything for him is new here. We are still adapting to each other. We are helping him, but we didn’t have many chances to play with each other.
“We have just had a couple of training sessions together, so we are still adapting, but I think we have done well.”