Liverpool to battle Manchester United for top defensive addition

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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is ready to rival Manchester United for the signature of Southampton defender Dejan Lovren, with the Mirror reporting that the Reds will lodge a formal bid at the end of the season.

Lovren has impressed in his debut Premier League season with Saints, proving a snip for Mauricio Pochettino's improving side at a cost of £8.5m from Lyon last summer.

The Croatian international's assured displays have attracted the attention of Manchester United, who are actively seeking a new defensive linchpin as they prepare for Nemanja Vidic to leave for Inter Milan at the end of the season.

Red Devils boss David Moyes is believed to have identified Lovren as a viable transfer target, but Rodgers has a similar view and is prepared to spend big in order to tighten up the title-chasers ahead of their Champions League return next season.

Liverpool have conceded 39 goals in the Premier League this season, the most of any side in the top seven, the only obvious flaw in a side that sit top of the table heading into the final two months of the campaign.

Rodgers will attempt to address that area and has the transfer budget to match his ambitions, although Saints are also under no pressure to sell any of their top stars.

Pochettino is no stranger to speculation surrounding his best players and will be braced for summer offers for the likes Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Lovren, particularly with the World Cup looming large as another shop window to display their talent.

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