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What is Dejan Lovren’s future at Anfield?

Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren was on the chopping block last summer. A transfer to Roma was okayed by the club and it looked as though Liverpool supporters had seen the last of the Croatian. The move was cancelled at the 11th hour, however, with Lovren asking for a €1 million signing bonus to join the Italians.

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With the transfer called off, Lovren returned to Liverpool with January looking likely to be his next opportunity for an Anfield exit. Yet, as in life, things changed and after Joel Matip suffered a knee injury in October, Lovren has become a vital player in the heart of the Reds defence.

Dejan Lovren rises to the occasion

Lovren hasn’t just filled in for Matip over the last two months, rather he has put together the best performances of his Liverpool career. Now in his sixth season at Anfield, Lovren hasn’t played as consistently good for the Reds previously and his play has kept Joe Gomez out of the side.

However, it isn’t just Lovren keeping Gomez out of the first team. The Englishman has struggled when played in central defence and has looked incredibly shaky. After being Jurgen Klopp’s first-choice at the start of the season versus Norwich City and pair next to Virgil van Dijk, Gomez has found himself to be the fourth-choice centre-back at Liverpool. Against Monterrey on Thursday night in the FIFA Club World Cup, it was Gomez that looked far shakier than makeshift centre-back Jordan Henderson.

Dejan Lovren contract ending soon

Lovren has 18 months left on his current Liverpool contract. Currently recovering from a minor leg injury, Lovren has proven his worth as a back-up and spot starter this term. Prior to Liverpool’s win over Watford in the league, Lovren had made seven consecutive starts with Matip rehabbing his knee. Now, with Liverpool handing out new contracts to Matip and James Milner in recent weeks, Lovren could be the next to get a fresh deal.

However, Liverpool could roll the dice on Lovren and let him go into his final 18 months at Anfield without a new contract. The Reds did the same thing with Alberto Moreno and Daniel Sturridge a season ago. Neither were major contributors in the final seasons at Anfield, although Sturridge initially looked like he would be with a fantastic goal versus Chelsea in the league.

Neither Sturridge nor Moreno have been missed this season. Would Lovren be missed if he was allowed to leave for free in 18 months?

An ageing defender

For starters, Lovren would be 32 by the time his contract expires at Anfield. He is an injury-prone player and has never played 10 matches on the bounce in his Liverpool career. By the time 2021 rolls around, Liverpool could have Gomez up to speed and in far better form than he has shown this term. In addition, youngster Sepp van den Berg could be ready to step into the first team.

Van den Berg hasn’t looked very good this season when played in the Carabao Cup. The big Dutchman looks slow and is forced to use his hands to stop defenders when his feet fail him. His performance versus Aston Villa showed sloppy play and footwork, but he is young and will improve.

Dejan Lovren is a key contributor to the Reds this season and it is a great piece of fortune that his transfer to Roma didn’t work out. Will he have another season at Anfield or a new contract? Those questions will most like have to wait to be answered in the summer when Liverpool’s transfer committee begin looking at options in defence.