Liverpool will need a replacement for Dejan Lovren over the next 18 months. They have a choice of two young Dutchmen to take up the mantle.
The reason for the 18-month limit is simple – Lovren’s contract ends in July 2021 (per the Telegraph). And so the Croatian will need replacing if the Reds are going to have four centre-halves in their squad.
That’s the amount they have now, with Lovren, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk. And you’d imagine it’s the total Jurgen Klopp would want to keep.
Fortunately, Liverpool don’t need to scour the world for Lovren’s replacement. They have two very talented young centre-halves in their youth team – both of whom happen to be Dutch.
Ki-Jana Hoever and Sepp van den Berg formed a defensive partnership on Tuesday and looked great. The duo helped control the game, much in the way the first-team defenders do.
They covered each other, passed the ball well and kept a clean-sheet. There’s not much more you can ask for really, let alone from two teenagers.
Lovren will need replacing and signing a fourth-choice centre-half as a replacement seems counter-productive when you have two talents like this. You’ll want them both in the first-team eventually, for one thing.
Instead, it’s a race to see who is ready to step up when the time comes. Now, Lovren could very well leave this summer, of course – he may not see out his contract.
But Liverpool should still stick with the development plan. Even if it means the chosen player plays the majority of his games for the under 23s, he should be that fourth option.
You don’t want to bring in anyone who is going to block their path. Especially when you see the progress Gomez has made since playing regularly. Liverpool could have their defensive options sorted for a very, very long time if they bring both Dutchmen through successfully.
But that requires taking a gamble on them, possibly as soon as this summer. Hopefully, the Reds are prepared to do just that.