Football is full of goods. It’s full of okays and full of moderates. It has very few greats.
For every position, from the millions of people who play competitively, there can only be maybe five real greats in each role. Those who will go down in history, are respected globally and have perfected their position like a master does a fine art. They’re the greats of this sport.
To be considered among the best footballers around, you have to be sheer bloody quality.
Dejan Lovren’s post-match claim to be “one of the best defenders in the world” is outrageous.
The Croat, clearly pumped full of adrenaline and the confidence gained after a big international win, chose the moments after having dispatched England from the World Cup finals to announce his assured level of self-esteem.
Dejan Lovren: "If he wins this #WorldCup, he deserves the Ballon d'Or." The #LFC defender makes a big statement about one of his #CRO teammates.#beINClub #beINRussia #beINFWC pic.twitter.com/2bUezOObS7
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS) July 11, 2018
He also proclaimed, like a concussed messiah, that he “took Liverpool to the final of the Champions League”. The likes of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, as everyone else remembers, clearly had no impact on that burst of fortune. It was all big Deji.
The notion that the 29-year-old is one of the best defenders in the Premier League – let alone the world – is beyond farcical.
The fella doesn’t register in the top 20 for any defensive statistic at all during last year’s domestic season and has been lambasted periodically by Liverpool fans since his arrival in 2014, a move which broke the Reds’ defensive transfer fee at the time for a then eye-watering £20m.
Lovren’s performances haven’t come close to paying his club back and the side’s exasperation can be seen in their determination to sign up reinforcing support for Jurgen Klopp’s back-line.
Last season alone, Lovren was at fault for several crucial goals, including Wissam Ben Yedder’s Champions League opener for Sevilla five minutes into the fixture.
Weak against Romelu Lukaku for both of his goals when facing Manchester United at Old Trafford and woeful for just 30 minutes against Tottenham Hotspur in their 4-1 trouncing of Liverpool, Lovren has consistently proven himself to be an unreliable, wobbly centre back.
His concentration is questionable at the best of times and he fails to provide the sort of solidity demanded from a 6’2” central defender.
But, to criticise Lovren’s playing ability for the whole of this piece would be unfair. After all, every footballer makes mistakes and the fella rather valiantly battled injury last season to enjoy several major matches for both club and now country, too.
So, let’s take a dig at his attitude instead.
To lay claim to being one of the world’s best defenders completely undermines the pinnacle of our sport. Football may be full of goods and moderates, but when you watch the greats you really know it.
If this World Cup has done anything, it’s made us all fall in love with the top of the game and appreciate its finest talents (whether newfound or established poster boys) with joy and excitement once again.
Watching the likes of Diego Godin, Thiago Silva, or Marcelo, we know we’re watching some of the world’s greatest sportsmen alive.
Watching Lovren is a poor equivalent for comparison.
Perhaps Dejan has a concerning superiority complex that he felt compelled to share with the world on Wednesday night. Whatever drove him to say it, he was unquestionably wrong.
Dejan Lovren – and, yes, this is catharsis for an Englishman – is not one of the planet’s best defenders.
He isn’t one of the league’s best defenders and can’t claim to be the best for his club either.
Arrogance may reside in abundance in the sport of football, but, Christ, this is a new level of self-confident delusion.
Remain among the ranks of the goods and moderates, Deji, and leave being great for those who can prove it.