Dejan Lovren

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Dejan Lovren is a Croatian central defender who was born in Zenica, Bosnia (formerly Yugoslavia) on 5th July 1989. Lovren played for NK Karlovac at youth level, before signing for Dinamo Zagreb in 2004. The youngster had caught the eye of Dinamo coach Zeljko Adzic whilst playing for Karlovac. Lovren earned rave reviews at youth level, representing Croatia at U17 level at the age of 15. He continued to perform for his country, thriving for the U18s, U19s and U20s. By 2007 he was a part of the U21 setup.

Lovren made his debut for Dinamo in June 2006 in a match against Inter Zapresic. The defender clearly impressed, because he soon joined Zapresic on loan for two years. He helped re-establish the club in the First Division, with a series of strong displays. Lovren returned to Dinamo for 2008/09, forcing his way in to first team recognition. He picked up a league title, and also represented the club in the UEFA Cup, scoring in a draw at Sparta Prague.

Lovren started for Dinamo in the preliminary Champions League rounds during the summer of 2009. He began attracting attention from around Europe, and was generally regarded as one of the hottest prospects in the game. Lovern was called up to the full Croatian national team in August for a game against Belarus. He was an unused substitute for that game. The Dinamo stopper would make his debut for Slaven Billic's side against Qatar in October 2009.

Lovren signed for Lyon for £7,000,000 in January 2010. He settled in fairly well, starring for the club at the heart of the defence, and occasionally at full-back. Lovren made his debut in January 2010 at Monaco. 2010/11 was probably his most productive year in France. Lovren was part of the Lyon side that finished 3rd in Ligue 1. He also played for the club in the Champions League, scoring in a 4-3 defeat at Benfica. If Lovren had one weakness it was his indiscipline. He was booked nine times during 2010/11, before being sent off in a 4-0 defeat at Auxerre at the end of the campaign.

Lovren had an up and down 2011/12, a season which would be dogged by injury. He scored his first goal for Croatia in a 3-1 win at Malta on 2nd September. Lovren helped his club to a French Cup win, but had to withdraw from the 2012 European Championship squad as fitness problems resurfaced. He leaped from one disaster to another during 2012/13. Lovren was sent off three times during the course of the campaign. He made a number of defensive misjudgements and errors, which resulted in him being dropped. Lovren then fell out with head coach Remi Garde. In 2012 the player had been linked to Barcelona, but a year later many Lyon fans were said to be happy to see the back of him.

On 14th June 2013 Lovren signed for Southampton for a fee believed to be in the region of £8,500,000. Lovren did ok in pre-season, but looked worth every penny of his transfer fee during the first few months of the Premier League campaign. He made two perfectly timed slide tackles on Nicholas Anelka at the Hawthorns on the opening day. Lovren looked comfortable on the ball from the outset, and always looked capable of making long runs out from the back, as he demonstrated in the August defeat at Norwich. Lovren headed the winner at Anfield on September 21st and didn't put a foot wrong at the back. He was slightly below his best in the victory over Swansea, but bounced back at Old Trafford, even if he was eventually denied credit for the late leveller. Lovren missed the 2-0 defeat at Arsenal, but was back the following weekend at Chelsea. He made a superb sliding tackle on Branislav Ivanovic at Stamford Bridge, but had a mildly disappointing second-half. Lovren struggled without the proper protection from midfield against Aston Villa on December 4th 2013. He wasn't at his best in festive clashes with Tottenham and Everton either. Lovren scored at Sunderland on January 18th 2014, but went off with a late injury which would rule him out until March. He looked a bit rusty on his return against Liverpool. Lovren was passable in encounters with Crystal Palace and Norwich, and was beyond awful in the 3-2 defeat at Tottenham. Lovren was partially at fault for all three goals conceded at White Hart Lane on March 23rd 2014. He had a much more comfortable afternoon against Newcastle a week later. Lovren was mostly solid during the final few weeks of 2013/14, but his display against Everton was as good as any of his early showings.

Lovren handed in a transfer request shortly before an unsuccessful 2014 World Cup. The defender was unfortunate to concede a penalty against Fred in the opening match against Brazil. That defeat would contribute to Croatia's first round exit. Lovren was no more than average.

Not long after the tournament, Lovren reiterated his desire to leave Southampton, stating "his head was already in Liverpool". The player added that the ambition of the club had deteriorated since the departure of Nicola Cortese and Mauricio Pochettino. Lovren said he had no idea who made the big decisions at the club, and expressed his frustrations at not being allowed to leave.