Wednesday 21 February 2018

Rodgers: Lovren is the new Carragher

Liverpool's Dejan Lovren is the perfect replacement for Jamie Carragher says Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers
Liverpool's Dejan Lovren is the perfect replacement for Jamie Carragher says Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

Chris Bascombe

Brendan Rodgers says Liverpool have finally found the ideal replacement for Jamie Carragher by signing Dejan Lovren.

Lovren marked his first appearance at Anfield since arriving for £20m from Southampton with a headed goal in a 4-0 friendly win over Borussia Dortmund.

Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson were also among the goalscorers in an ideal final warm-up fixture for Rodgers’s side.

The Liverpool manager opted for the centre-half pairing of Lovren and Martin Skrtel, his preferred choice at the start of the season, and he says the Croatian showed why the Merseyside club were so determined to sign him, comparing him to the Anfield legend who retired in 2013.

“Dejan was perfect,” said Rodgers. “He is exactly what I’ve been looking for since Jamie Carragher left. He is a dominant, No1 centre-half, who reads the game well, offers good guidance to the back four and the rest of the team – and shows his qualities of range of passing too. You saw with the pass to Coutinho in the build-up to the first goal.

 “Just like he showed against us last year he’s dominant in the box – both in ours and the opposition’s – and I thought he was excellent.”

Rodgers has often complained about a lack of leadership in his defence, the back four proving the Achilles’ heel in an otherwise exceptional title challenge last season.

Lovren’s arrival inevitably raises uncertainty over the future of Daniel Agger and Kolo Touré, while Mamadou Sakho – the French international who cost £18  million last summer – has never fully convinced the Liverpool manager he is the solution.

Rodgers, however, says the selection problems are welcome after two years where his starting XI was predictable and options from the bench extremely limited.

“The pleasing thing is I can make changes and still feel we are strong, which hasn’t been the case since I have been here because of the depth,” he said.

“The changes are still maintaining the desire, depth and quality in the team. With a couple more to come we should have the depth to challenge.”

Liverpool kick-off their Premier League campaign against Southampton next Sunday. Saints manager Ronald Koeman and his assistant Sammy Lee were among those at Anfield.

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