Croatian defender Dejan Lovren is keen to end his tenure with Southampton after just one season in the Premier League. If he does sign for Liverpool this summer, the Saints are already targeting his replacement, with rumours in French paper L’Equipe suggesting that they will launch a bid for FC Lorient centre-back Bruno Ecuele-Manga.
Here are five facts about the 25-year-old:
Lorient signed the defender in 2010 when they sold Laurent Koscielny to Arsenal for £10 million. The Gabonese defender joined from Ligue 2 side Angers for £2.2 million. Four years later and he is Lorient’s captain and leader.
After playing for FC 105 Libreville in his home country, he was spotted by Ligue 1 side Girondins de Bordeaux in 2006, the Burgundy club brought him to France, but after around 40 games for the second team he only managed one game for the full-team before going out on loan at Rodez.
Since his time in France he has developed into an international defender, he has made 36 appearances for his country – Gabon – and played in the squad that played in the 2010 and 2012 African Cup of Nations.
In his four previous seasons, Ecuele-Manga has played 115 games for Lorient, in three of his four seasons he has played over 30 games. During the first-game of the 2012/13 season he completely ruptured his medial and cruciate knee ligaments against Paris Saint-Germain. His side were leading 2-0 before he had to go off. He missed six months of the season, but came back better than ever.
Although on first impressions, Ecuele-Manga is an uncompromising, no-nonsense defender, he has an excellent disciplinary record. After 143 games in France he has only ever picked up one red card, and 26 yellow cards. He is a leader of men and a huge part of Lorient’s recent success.
Any move for Ecuele-Manga would cost around £5 million, and in the current market for a player still in his prime, that would be an absolute bargain for Southampton if they lose Dejan Lovren.