Liverpool defender perfect example of huge Premier League problems

Dejan Lovren has become a £20 million flop for Liverpool and highlights the bigger problems in the Premier League and their weakness in Europe.

It has not been a good week for English clubs in European competition. Dejan Lovren's penalty miss in the shoot-out against Besiktas on Thursday meant elimination for Liverpool from the Europa League, joining Tottenham Hotspur after their earlier defeat by Fiorentina.

That came off the back of Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal's 3-1 shock loss against Monaco at the Emirates.

There is no dispute that the Premier League is the most exciting league in the world. The atmospheres, the never-say-die attitudes from all 20 teams, it is a wonderful spectacle. However, you have to question, when results like this come in, that it's hard to say it's the best league for the quality of football.

Lovren at Liverpool is the perfect example of why the quality of the Premier League has been diluted, and it has been happening for years.

When Lyon paid €8 million to take him as a 20-year-old, from Dinamo Zagreb, for three seasons he looked like a potentially great player and definitely a defender that showed a lot of promise.

In his last season for the French side, the cracks were beginning to show, injuries hampered him and he looked unreliable when the pressure was on at Lyon.

Fans of French football were shocked when Lyon President Jean-Michel Aulas was able to do a deal with Southampton to sell the Croatian for €10 million. It was a profit on a player that no one in France thought was worth the bother.

Lovren's career in England started well and he looked a solid signing, but the good performances didn't last the whole season. The second half of his first campaign was not as impressive, but in a league where high-quality centre-backs are at a premium, the criticism never came. The Premier League is not known for its strong defensive capabilities, so unless you are constantly under the spotlight in one of the bigger clubs, mistakes can go unnoticed.

You only have to look at Southampton's results this season to see that they were not severely weakened by the loss of Lovren; especially for £20 million (per the BBC) - if he wasn't worth €10 million; he certainly wasn't worth more than double.

You only pay so much for Lovren last summer because he had played in the Premier League. As long as English clubs continue to over pay for players in their own league, the quality of their teams will be diluted, making it harder and harder for English teams to find success en masse.

There will always be exceptions, the recent £5 billion TV deal will make sure the biggest clubs can always spend a ridiculous amount of money on players, but it has to be on the right players.

Two examples that put it into perspective, Eden Hazard cost less for Chelsea than what Manchester United spent on Luke Shaw. Manchester City also paid considerably more for Wilfried Bony than what Real Madrid paid to take Sergio Ramos from Sevilla to the Spanish capital.

English clubs have the money to over pay for average players, it isn't going to affect their spending power, but putting higher expectations on players that are not worth the hype is only going to cause problems in the long-term future of English clubs in European competitions.

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