Six years ago, Dejan Lovren joined Liverpool, signing from Southampton in a £20M deal. Today, after 185 appearances for the Reds, the 31-year-old Croatian centre half has joined Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg.
With Lovren falling to fourth on the depth chart, his departure was expected, but that doesn’t lessen its significance—a player who had a key role in the evolution of Liverpool from the final season under Brendan Rodgers through the arrival of Jürgen Klopp to winning the Champions League and Premier League.
“He was absolutely a very, very important part of this team from the first day since I was in,” Klopp reflected. “He played super games and scored one of the most important goals of our history in the 4-3 against Borussia Dortmund.
“He had so many good games. When he was fit, he was very, very, very often in the team. A great player and a great person. He is a model athlete, has everything you need and now he goes to Russia, but he can come back always—he will be always welcome.”
With Zenit, there will be the opportunity for Lovren to start every week for a side that is expected to again win the Russian Premier League and that will compete in the 2020-21 Champions League in whatever form that competition takes.
The fee has today been reported as ranging from £8.5M up to £11M, with the low end likely reflecting what is guaranteed in the deal and the high end what could be achieved if Lovren and his new club hit certain appearance and performance thresholds.
His role in his later seasons may have waned, and his occasional rashness on the pitch certain meant he had his detractors, but you can’t tell the story over Liverpool as they are today without acknowledging the role that Lovren played.