Manchester United instead of Liverpool be destination for highly rated Lovren?

Southampton's Dejan Lovren is said to be after a move away from the club. Could Manchester United pip Liverpool to his signature?

Southampton were among the Premier League's most exciting teams last season, but they are finding out now that success comes at a price.

Manager Mauricio Pochettino has already departed for Tottenham, Rickie Lambert for Liverpool, and Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana find themselves linked with moves away on a daily basis.

Central defender Dejan Lovren was linked a week ago with a switch to Liverpool, and fuel has been added to that fire by reports in The Mail that the Croatian has now handed in a transfer request.

A £7 million signing from Lyon a year ago, Lovren's decision is not likely to go down well with fans of his current side.

Liverpool's interest is known, but could Manchester United become contenders for his signature?

The Mail in fact reported in March that Lovren was a target for the Red Devils, and it is they rather than Liverpool who have a greater need in the position.

Liverpool have Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho, Daniel Agger and Kolo Toure available at centre-back next season, while United are reeling from the departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

They have Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, but it is almost certain they will look to strengthen in the position over the summer.

United have struck out in their pursuit of Mats Hummels who Dortmund are adamant is not for sale, and Lovren is certainly likely to be a cheaper alternative if Southampton can be persuaded to sell.

The report in The Mail claims that Lovren wants to play Champions League football next year, alluding to Liverpool's interest, but if that falls through and United make a play, the Croatian will surely make an exception for the Red Devils, and be persuaded by Louis van Gaal's promises that their hitch is only temporary.

Liverpool were successful in prising Lambert from Southampton, but appear to have fallen out with the Saints over the Lallana deal, and their interest and consequential unsettling of Lovren may further antagonise the hierarchy at the club and give United an opening.

Lovren and United may not be each other's first choices, but with time to play out between now and his involvement at the World Cup ending, there is plenty of time for them to each adjust their expectations.

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