Barcelona now in the hunt for Liverpool target

Barcelona are thought to be interested in Southampton defender Dejan Lovren who is also on Brendan Rodgers shopping list.

Dejan Lovren joined Southampton from Lyon for £7 million last summer and it proved to be one of the signings of the season in the Premier League. He excelled in a Southampton team which caught many by surprise but now looks set to disband.

Rickie Lambert and Mauricio Pochettino have already departed, whilst it looks likely that Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana could follow. Liverpool were the ones to snap up Lambert and remain favourites to sign Lallana too. However their pursuit of Lovren has been made all the more difficult now Barcelona have joined the race to sign him.

The Daily Mail has reported that Barca have identified the Croatian as the man to solve their defensive problems. Their need for a new centre-back has been apparent for some time, and it is even more urgent now Carles Puyol has retired.

It leaves Gerard Pique as their only recognised senior centre-back with Marc Bartra having played a more prominent role last season. Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets have played as makeshift defenders in the last few years, but a club the size of the Catalan giants shouldn't have to resort to that.

Barcelona have also been trying to agree a deal with Paris Saint-Germain for Marquinhos and it was thought a £20 million deal that would see Dani Alves move to France as well was on the cards. However it has gone quiet on that front and it is not known whether they would like to pursue Marquinhos as well as Lovren.

Lovren is believed to have handed in a transfer request at St Mary's in May stating that he needed to be playing Champions League football. Both Liverpool and Barcelona can offer him that but he is also thought to want to stay in the Premier League. Now that would usually be enough to fend off most clubs, but when Barcelona come calling, it can be hard to refuse.

The 24-year-old is currently in Brazil with the Croatian team and was aggrieved in the opening match following a questionable display from the referee which included penalising Lovren and rewarding Brazil a penalty after minimal contact with Fred.


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