All signs point to Southampton securing the signing of the season

Dejan Lovren has been outstanding since he arrived in the summer, and Vincent Ralph believes only Mesut Ozil can challenge him for the title of signing of the season.

Back in August, when the time came to pick this season’s Fantasy Football team, I was torn between two defenders. One was familiar and the other was something of a risk, if only because he was yet to play in the Premier League.

In the end, I opted for Swansea’s Chico over Southampton’s Dejan Lovren, and I have been ruing that decision ever since; because in reality, picking the 24-year-old Croatian was no risk at all.

That is easy to say in hindsight, but having already made almost 100 appearances for French club Lyon – including 12 in the Champions League – and having been capped 21 times for his country, Lovren’s £6.8million signing was less risk more master-stroke.

While the likes of Roberto Soldado, Mesut Ozil and Alvaro Negredo have impressed since their summer moves, only Ozil can realistically challenge Lovren in terms of impact.

Surely that is how the success of a signing is measured, on how much they change their new side for the better. And while Ozil continues to do that for Arsenal, Lovren’s arrival has helped the Saints form an outstanding and all-but-impenetrable defence.

LIVE Premier League match alerts to your phone - goals, red cards, half and full-time scores

Lovren has started all eight of Southampton’s league matches to date, in which time they have conceded just three goals.

That is not a good record, it is an outstanding one. And while Tottenham continue to be praised for their backline, Maurico Pochettino’s side appear to be receiving only a small proportion of the praise.

That Lovren also scored the winning goal against Liverpool – and had a pretty good claim for nicking the equaliser at Old Trafford – shows he brings so much more than solidity, he also threatens at the other end.

So in short, the next time I consider putting a new arrival into my Fantasy Team I will simply do it, to prevent a hat-trick of disappointments.

And in the meantime I will admire Lovren and his teammates – because Southampton’s achievements to date are a collective effort. I just could not see them flying anywhere near as high without their summer signing from France.

See also: #AskHarry becomes PR disaster after Twitter sabotage of Q&A

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch