Dejan Lovren is delighted to be back in training and has been surprised all over again by the sheer volume of talent in the Liverpool squad.
The Croatian defender returned with the rest of the squad to full-contact training recently, with Jurgen Klopp‘s group also undergoing a practice match at Anfield.
Speaking to the club website, Lovren says the resumption of group work after a long period training solo was a reminder that the Reds have a quality group of players, which will prepare them all for the nine remaining games.
“When we came back all together, it was like, ‘Wow, how many players we have,'” he said.
“When you look at all the faces, it’s like, ‘Here is quality.’
“The other day we played and it was great to see some players in good shape after such a long time not playing.
“Then you come back and you’re like, ‘My God, we need to really work even harder for a spot.’ It was quite a tough game but we really enjoyed playing against each other. It was quite a good test for what will come to us.”
Meanwhile, in a separate interview with Sky Sports, Lovren discussed everything from finding himself as fourth choice, to the growth of the club under Klopp and how he feels players should use their position to speak up about key issues.
“I think you should use your platform, especially when you have millions of people who are following you.
“I want to be recognised also as a man who is spreading love and positivity. I’m looking at myself and it’s like I have a duty. Sometimes it’s positive, sometimes it’s negative, but I will not stop with it.
“It’s not about showing off what you have or anything like that. It’s about doing good things around the world.
“I know when you do something, some people will judge you and say ‘stick to football’ or things like that, but I don’t agree with that.”
Back on the pitch, Lovren has had to step down considerably his role in the team over the last couple of years.
He’s far from bitter about it though, saying he’s the type to “work 200 per cent behind closed doors” if he’s not selected for a game.
Lovren paid tribute to those who have enabled the team to progress so much, particularly the manager.
“When I look at the organisation of the club, wow, it has changed unbelievably,” he says. “I can only say well done to the manager, well done to the owners and well done to all the people who are working at Liverpool Football Club.
“We do not stop.
“Even when we are at our best level, [Klopp] sees that we can improve more. He had a whole picture already in his mind, he just missed a few pieces. So he bought Alisson, he bought Virgil, then it just clicked. He has done an amazing job.”
Lovren’s respect for Liverpool, and the people within the club, remains enormous and entirely clear.
He may no longer play the most prominent role, and rumours continue to suggest he’ll depart in summer, but he has still played a far more professional role and filled in when required without complaint, compared to some who have previously engineered moves when things do not go their way.
Add in his close friendship with Mo Salah and his determined but joke-around nature and, if he does leave in 2020, the Anfield dressing room at least will be the poorer for his absence.