A study has confirmed Southampton combative stopper not only as the Premier League's best defender but the sixth best centre back across Europe.
Southampton have enjoyed a formidable a season in the Premier League but their success will inevitably make it difficult to hold onto their brightest talent this summer.
England's Adam Lallana and his French midfield cohort Morgan Scheiderlein have both been mooted heavily with transfers in the press but a recent study spotlights their centre-back pairing as their hottest properties.
Bloomberg Sport analysed every game in the English, Italian, French, Spanish and German top flights and results, known as the 2014 'Power 50' rankings have ranked three Southampton players – Dejan Lovren(31), Jose Fonte (35) and Rickie Lambert (45) – all higher than Wayne Rooney (48) on the list.
Lovren was the ninth highest central defender on the list and only topped by Europe's elite: Mehdi Benatia (7), Miranda (13), Martin Demechelis (17), Diego Godin (18), Thiago SIlva (20) Giorgio Chiellini (25) and Mats Hummels (30).
Whilst Liverpool have already declared an interest in Lovren – who netted the winner for the Saints in their win at Anfield this season – such statistics may alert other top clubs to Lovren and Fonte's credentials.
The study takes into account both the attacking and defensive responsibilities of each player and also the strength of the opposition to produce the most in-depth and scientifically-advanced index on the continent.
Both Lovren and Fonte have been productive from set pieces, scoring 2 and 3 goals respectively (see below).
According to the Mirror, Lovren has emerged as a principal target for Liverpool and Louis van Gaal certainly has some defensive patching up to do at Old Trafford thanks to the departures of long-time paring Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
Here's how the Southampton pair compare to Liverpool's principal stopper this seasons, Martin Skrtel, and Manchester United's best defender, Nemanja Vidic.
Makes for quite interesting browsing, doesn't it?
It is a testament to Southampton's fantastic season that their trio in the 2014 'Power 50' rankings puts them on a par with Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and PSG in the table.
Their fans will be hoping to hold onto Lovren, Fonte, Lambert, Lallana, Schneiderlin and Mauricio Pochettino.
Just how much this canny, inventive South Coast side will be broken up though, remains to be seen.