Liverpool warned off move for £25m Premier League centre back

Liverpool have lined up Southampton centre back Dejan Lovren as their latest transfer target – but Saints boss Ronald Koeman has warned them off.

Liverpool certainly need to strengthen their defence having watched their back line collapse at Crystal Palace last season, which ultimately cost them the title. The Reds defence looked shaky throughout the season, and with rumours of exits for both Daniel Agger and Kolo Toure, Brendan Rodgers will surely look to sign another centre half.

The primary target appears to be Croatian international Lovren, who enjoyed a superb season with Southampton. The former Lyon man only moved to the South Coast for £8.5m last summer, but his value has already shot up to almost £25m – or at least that's what Southampton are believed to be asking for.

Lovren has since said that “his head is already with Liverpool” in a bid to force a move to Anfield, but new manager Ronald Koeman, who recently replaced now-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino at St. Mary's Stadium, has moved to reiterate his intention of keeping his star defender at the club.

"I spoke to Les Reed [Southampton’s director of football] and two times to Dejan," Koeman said. "He was very clear. I said I want to keep Dejan in the team. I respect all the meanings but we have to do what the best is for the club."

"He has a contract, he has to come back this Sunday but I don’t know what will happen after this," he continued. "First of all we like to keep all that info in the club, not the press. That was not a good thing of his side. You like to have all the players happy; happy to be at Southampton. If there is a different opinion, we will speak about that and make a decision."

"I hope he will come back. He has to come back on Sunday. Four or five days ago he said it’s a difficult situation and he will have another talk to the club and his agent but he knows he has to come back because he is still a player of Southampton," added the Dutchman.

Player power rules the transfer market in modern football, and with Lovren already admitting that he wants to leave Southampton in order to link up with former team mates Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana on Merseyside, it will become increasingly difficult for the Saints to keep Lovren – unless Liverpool pull out of the move.

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