Jurgen Klopp has paid tribute to ‘Liverpool legend’ Dejan Lovren after the defender’s transfer to Zenit St. Petersburg was confirmed by the club on Monday.
The defender is one of a host of players who have joined Liverpool from Southampton in recent years, completing a £20 million move to Anfield back in 2014 before going on to make 185 appearances for the club.
Lovren – who famously declared himself as ‘one of the best defenders in the world’ after reaching the finals of the World Cup and Champions League in 2018 – has fallen down the pecking order in recent times, behind the likes of Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, the Croatian often seeming like an accident waiting to happen for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
However, Klopp has praised the importance of Lovren’s role in his team, the defender having been a part of Liverpool’s Premier League, Champions League, Super Cup and Club World Cup success over the last 12 months.
“Another Liverpool legend who leaves the club, because he was absolutely a very, very important part of this team from the first day since I was in,” Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com.
Always committed. Always passionate.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 27, 2020
“I remember when we played with Dortmund against Liverpool in the pre-season friendly and Dejan scored with a header with incredible power. That was the image I had in my mind when I came here and I thought about the defenders we had at the time.
“He played super games and scored one of the most important goals of our history in the 4-3 against Borussia Dortmund; a really wonderful moment to share.
“He had so many good games. Yes, I think he will not like the Tottenham game when I took him off in the first half, but it is part of football and part of development – and he always came back.
“When he was fit, he was very, very, very often in the team. A great player and a great person.
“Yesterday we said, ‘Who is now the best friend of Mo?’ because they were really real, real bezzies. They were really close and that’s the thing, we will miss him.
“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 because he is a really nice guy.”