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Jurgen Klopp backs Dejan Lovren’s bold “best defender in the world” claim

Jurgen Klopp has insisted that Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren is right in labelling himself “one of the best defenders in the world” despite the ensuing debate.

Lovren will become only the fifth player to feature in a World Cup final while at Liverpool on Sunday, as Croatia take on France in Moscow.

After his impressive display in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in May, the 29-year-old has certainly built up an impressive resume at the club.

But his claim after Wednesday night’s 2-1 win over England that he should be considered among the top players in his position was met with incredulity from many.

However, when responding to Lovren’s claims after Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Bury on Saturday, Klopp agreed, though he joked “it would be better if somebody else said that and not Dejan”:

“He’s right. The only problem is that, obviously, nobody really thinks like that.

“If you go into detail it’s not a big surprise that [Croatia] are there.

“They don’t have world-class right or left full-backs, but in the end they don’t concede.

“In the middle of the park they play quite offensive—Brozovic, Rakitic, Modric—so somebody needs to fix all of that, and he’s a big part of that.

“He was with us in the Champions League final, three years ago with us in the Europa League final.

“Yes, he didn’t win those, but that makes only two players better in the centre-half position; I didn’t see two better centre-halves in the Champions League final, only more ruthless.

“For me it’s not a surprise. He’s played a really good World Cup, but to do it consistently is more important.

“Dejan and I will work together for a long time, so I have the opportunity to help him in that way—and next time, I say it!”

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - Wednesday, July 11, 2018: Croatia's Dejan Lovren celebrates after the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Semi-Final match between Croatia and England at the Luzhniki Stadium. Croatia won 2-1 after extra-time. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp’s stance comes as no surprise, but there is a sense of sincerity in his words, contrasting with outside perspectives of Liverpool’s No. 6.

It was claimed earlier in the summer that the Reds were pursuing another centre-back, namely either Newcastle United’s Jamaal Lascelles or Burnley‘s James Tarkowski.

But that seems to not be the case, as with Joel Matip, Ragnar Klavan, Joe Gomez and Nathaniel Phillips in reserve Klopp looks to be persevering with the first-choice pairing of Lovren and Virgil van Dijk.

His assertion that Lovren stills needs to find consistency in his top-level displays is astute, but at 29 it is questionable whether this should still be an issue.

Expected to take a three-week break after the World Cup, Lovren could well miss the Reds’ first game of 2018/19, with Matip a more likely partner for Van Dijk against West Ham at Anfield.

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