Barcelona to rival Liverpool for signing of Dejan Lovren

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A number of reports earlier this month suggested that Liverpool's summer search for a centre-back would soon be over after it was reported that Dejan Lovren had handed in a transfer request, but now Barcelona may have a say on whether that happens or not.

Catalan newspaper Sport are reporting that the Camp Nou club are taking a keen interest in the 24-year-old's current situation and are prepared to open talks to thwart Brendan Rodgers' move for him. The Liverpool manager is keen to bolster his defensive ranks with more quality as they embark on a first Champions League campaign since the 2009/10 season, but could struggle to match the lure of such a big European club.

Lovren was outstanding for Southampton during his first season in England since joining from Lyon and his performances have evidently not gone unnoticed. Barcelona are entering a period of rebuilding under new manager Luis Enrique and one of their tasks will be to replace club great Carles Puyol in the back four, who has retired, for now.

A good display by Lovren at the World Cup could help to drive up the price in a bidding war between Barcelona and Liverpool this summer, something Southampton are unlikely to be against. However, it did not start well for him in the in the opening match on Thursday night, which saw Croatia fall to a 3-1 defeat to hosts Brazil.

The Croats felt aggrieved after some questionable refereeing decisions during the game, though none of their players will be feeling more aggrieved than the Saints man. Lovren gave away the penalty that put Brazil 2-1 up after Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura adjudged him to have fouled Seleçao striker Fred, but replays showed it was a poor decision.

Other than that, Lovren looked impressive in a game that his side probably deserved to get something out of and gave further reason as to why Liverpool must move fast to get a deal done as quickly as possible after the world cup, before Barcelona's interest gets too hot.

Anfield saw some outstanding attacking football last season, but the displays at the back left a lot to be desired and the need for some improvement is obvious. Lovren would be an ideal addition after a good start to life in the Premier League and he is the perfect age to purchase and rotate in a talented defensive squad.

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