Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has moved to defend defensive duo Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno, despite the pair having restricted roles at Anfield this season.
Despite being two of the Reds’ more established international names in defence, both Lovren and Moreno have fallen down the pecking order behind younger stars such as Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson.
World Cup finalist Lovren has made just seven Premier League starts for Liverpool this season, whilst Moreno has recently been involved in an interview in which the Spaniard criticised his bit-part role. However, Klopp said of Lovren, via the Express: “I thought 2018 was probably one of the best years Dejan has ever had!
“Not only what he achieved with his teams – the Champions League with us and the World Cup final with Croatia.
“But performance wise as well, he’s been very stable. All these old stories people said, mistakes can happen from time to time, I can’t remember the time to be honest.
Klopp on Lovren impact: "2018 has to be one of the best years Dejan has ever had."— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) December 28, 2018
“Maybe it was Tottenham, October 2017. He had a brilliant year. After the World Cup he came back injured, and that’s not cool.That’s why we could not even think about him, because he was not able to train or play.
“Since he’s in, for us it’s our two last men standing, and it’s really important that it works, but it’s not a surprise.
“We qualified for Champions League with this couple [Lovren and Virgil van Dijk]. It’s been a good year, and I’m not surprised.”
Liverpool are looking to replace Alberto Moreno when he leaves as cover for Andy Robertson rather than promote a youngster to the senior squad.— DaveOCKOP (@DaveOCKOP) December 28, 2018
Moreno, in contrast, has been restricted even further than Lovren in terms of first team involvement this term. The Spaniard has made just two Premier League appearances in the current campaign.
The 26-year-old was interviewed back home in Spain, where the full-back was critical of his lack of involvement. However, Klopp refused to criticise Moreno’s actions.
“Matt [Liverpool’s press officer] told me about it! I’m still not prepared to say something to be honest," Klopp said, as quoted by the Evening Standard.
“But that Alberto is not happy with not having too much minutes, it’s obvious. The more important thing is he never shows it in any training sessions, he’s a fantastic professional and trains really well when he can.
“The last couple of weeks he has had back problems and that kept him out of a lot of sessions. Yesterday was the first session it looked 100 per cent good again. That’s all.”
With Moreno still working has way back to full fitness, Andrew Robertson is further assured of his place at left back for Liverpool’s huge Premier League clash with Arsenal on Saturday, whilst Lovren is set to continue at centre back in the absence of Joe Gomez.