Belfast Telegraph

Jurgen Klopp says more to come from Dejan Lovren after defender signs new deal

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits Dejan Lovren's performance against Crystal Palace may have had fans calling for the defender to be sold but it had no bearing on his decision to secure him on a long-term contract.

The Croatia international has signed a new deal, which Press Association Sport understands takes him up to 2021 with an option for a further 12 months, as Klopp plans for the future with the often-maligned centre-back.

Only 12 months ago Lovren was the hero as he scored a dramatic 90th-minute winner against Borussia Dortmund to put Liverpool into the semi-finals of the Europa League, arguably the high point of what has been an up-and-down three years at the club.

Conversely, a faltering performance against Palace where he was dominated by former Liverpool team-mate Christian Benteke, who scored both goals in Sunday's 2-1 win, was one of numerous low points.

Klopp, however, sees things with a more level head.

"In a situation like this I know how football supporters think: if you had asked them after the Dortmund game they would have said 'Give him a 20-year contract'," said the Reds boss.

"When you see the Crystal Palace game they think 'Can we find another team who could have him?'.

"The truth is in between. In a situation like this you have to look outside.

"If Dejan played for another club you'd think about signing him and then you think what you'd have to pay for him and it would be a big number of money.

"Giving him a new contract, working with him, he is 27 years old - the best time for a centre-half is still to come.

"I don't know a lot about it but I heard he had a difficult start at Liverpool but he has really settled so that's really good.

"He is physically strong, quick and a good footballer. Sometimes decision-making could be better but no-one out there - and we watch a lot - is perfect.

"We really think he can help us a lot and we can help him in these few decisive parts of his game and that is what we want to do.

"I am so happy about the news."

Lovren acknowledges he has endured some difficult times since his arrival from Southampton in the summer of 2014 with a £20million price tag.

His first season was shaky as he settled in and there have been a number of ups and downs along the way but his general improvement this season has been noticeable and he puts that down to Klopp.

And he wants to repay the German by winning trophies in the future.

"We are not here just to play the games and to be in the middle of nowhere because of the quality of the team and a top manager, who won almost everything with Dortmund," he told liverpoolfc.com.

"When Jurgen came in, he changed me a lot. Not just me, he changed a lot of players with the mentality, working hard on the pitch, on the training ground and he is still fresh here because it's only a year and half, but everyone has seen the big difference.

"With his ideas and plans, and also with the club, it can be a positive thing in the end.

"Next season, we will again try to reach as many points as possible, but firstly to finish this season well and qualify for the Champions League."

A draw in Thursday's Manchester derby means Liverpool retain third place, one point ahead of City and two ahead of United, with both clubs having a match in hand.

However, with four matches remaining Lovren is confident they can achieve their aim of securing Champions League football.

"I would be stupid if I was to say we don't believe in this," he stated.

"We started the season so strong and we believed from day one in pre-season - and we are still believing.

"Unfortunately, we had some injuries and we were unlucky in those moments, but we still have a big squad with young talents.

"We will definitely fight in the last four games to take all 12 points.

"I always believe. I believe in the team and I believe in every single person who believes in us. This is the most important thing.

"I think we would deserve it at the end because of how well we've done for all of the season."

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