“Look out there and tell me five that would make us stronger. Five. Then, you win a prize,” he challenged journalists in August, but he even he admitted after Sunday's capitulation at Wembley that he would have been better off playing himself in defence against Spurs.
“The first goal would not happen if I am on the pitch, in my trainers,” he said after the humiliating loss to Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Lovren was at fault for Tottenham's first two goals and the Croatian’s blunders continued until he was finally put out of his misery just after the half-hour mark when Klopp replaced the Croat with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Defensive errors are an ongoing issue for a side that had already conceded three times at Watford and five at Manchester City before the meeting with Spurs. Indeed, Liverpool hadn't shipped 16 goals in their opening nine league games for 52 years, which only makes Klopp's decision to stick with the defenders he had all the more baffling.
Indeed, although the push for Virgil van Dijk came to nothing due to Southampton’s refusal to sell, Liverpool had ample targets to pursue.
“We watched all of the [potential signings] 500 million times,” Klopp said last month. “It’s not that we ignore it. I said if there would have been a solution out there we would have done it. I had to make a decision and the decision was our boys are not worse than them.”
But as his defenders continue to be brutally exposed on an almost weekly basis, Goal can easily think of 15 defenders better than Lovren & Co.
Lazio centre-back Stefan de Vrij is out of contract at the end of the season and has attracted interest from Juventus. Liverpool had been linked to the Netherlands international in the close season and having developed in his time in Italy, he would have been a good option to bolster the back line. Snapping him up on a free this summer looks beyond the Reds now, as he looks set to renew his contract with Lazio.
After talks over a new deal with Roma came to nothing, Kostas Manolas looked set to join Zenit St Petersburg in the summer. The Greece international snubbed the Russian side in hopes that a better opportunity would come up, while Roma were willing to let him go for just €40m. The 26-year-old would have been an excellent addition to Jurgen Klopp’s back line but instead he remains at Roma.
He is only 21 but Jonathan Tah is already an established star defender in the Bundesliga. It has been over four years since he made his debut with Hamburg and he has grown into one of Germany’s most promising players with Bayer Leverkusen. Tall, quick and always alert, he would have been a great alternative to Van Dijk and a good fit for Klopp’s team.
Just 18 months after his arrival in Italy, Slovakian defender Milan Skriniar was taking offers from clubs all over Europe. Skriniar, 22, was pivotal for Sampdoria in 2016-17 and held off on making a move to Inter see what else was available. The Nerazzurri were able to lure him, though, and he has not missed a minute of action since his €18m move. He has already been dubbed Walter Samuel’s successor by the former Argentina star himself.
Matthijs de Ligt burst onto the scene with an Ajax side that reached the Europa League final last season and was immediately touted as one of the most promising centre-backs on the continent. He continues to be linked to Barcelona and although Ajax were determined to keep him, the Dutch club are always willing to sell at the right price.
Colombia international Davinson Sanchez attracted interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid among others during a sensational debut season at Ajax. It was Tottenham who paid over €40m to snap him up in August and he has walked straight into Mauricio Pochettino’s starting XI. At 21, Sanchez will progress even further and the ruthless energetic defender would certainly have been an outstanding acquisition for the Reds.
After three seasons in the second tier with Ingolstadt, it took just one season in the Bundesliga for Benjamin Hubner to earn a move to Hoffenheim and immediately became crucial to the second best defence in the league last season. Hubner was part of the back line that leaked
Napoli were able to hold on to Kalidou Koulibaly in the summer despite strong interest from Europe's elite clubs. He has since played every minute of competitive football for Maurizio Sarri’s high-flying side and will likely attract more bids in the future. It would have taken a big offer to secure him in the last window, but the 26-year-old’s value could rise even further as he is now regarded as one of the best in his position in Serie A.
A brave tackler who goes straight for the ball and is comfortable once he’s on it, Inigo Martinez possesses an urgency that has been absent from Liverpool’s defence. The 26-year-old has been at Real Sociedad for his entire career and is closing in on his 200th La Liga appearance, but the Basque side had to fend off interest from Barcelona. With a €32m release clause in his contract, however, Sociedad can count themselves lucky a team like Liverpool weren’t wise enough to make a move.
After spells in Italy, Germany, France and Turkey, the Premier League would have been a good step for Simon Kjaer in the close-season. The Denmark international rejected Liverpool in 2015 to join Fenerbahce, but making a return for him would have been a wise move. The Anfield side may have had an advantage given he was raised in a Liverpool-mad family, but instead he signed for their Champions League opponents Sevilla.
An Argentina international before he had even kicked a ball in professional football, big things are expected of Emanuel Mammana. The 21-year-old impressed upon his arrival at Lyon from River Plate, but was restricted to 25 appearances due to injuries. Although he was just one year into a five-year contract, he made a surprise switch to Zenit in the summer and has been a star player at the heart of Roberto Mancini’s back line. Given the Russian side paid a reported €16m, he must go down as a missed opportunity for several teams of Liverpool’s ilk.
Omer Toprak remained consistent for Bayer Leverkusen throughout his six-year spell at Bayer Leverkusen, despite occasional injury problems. The BayArena side let their captain go in the previous window and may have been more enthusiastic about Premier League offers than the prospect of him joining Borussia Dortmund. A clause in his contract allowed BVB to secure Toprak, 28, for just €12m.
Patience has been a virtue for Brazilian defender Felipe, who waited until the age of 27 to make his first move to Europe. He walked straight into Porto’s first-team upon his arrival from Corinthians in 2016 and completed every game in the Champions League as they reached the second round. With a €50m release clause in his contract, he could have been snapped up early by a brave club and some clubs are reportedly considering doing so soon.
Liverpool spent a great deal of time trying to pry midfielder Naby Keita from RB Leipzig and will head to Anfield next summer for a huge fee, but the Reds could have addressed more immediate concerns had they gone after his team-mate Willi Orban. After helping Leipzig gain promotion to the Bundesliga, he took on the captaincy last season and was a reliable presence throughout their stunning runner-up finish. He is still improving at 24, but Liverpool could have picked him up for a reasonable price, but the contract extension he signed this month likely puts him out of reach again.
A star for Poland at Euro 2016, Kamil Glik has been on a steady rise in recent years. He was an integral player for Torino for four years before joining Monaco for around €15m a year ago and becoming an instant hit for the Ligue 1 champions. As they waved goodbye to several stars over the summer, the fast and sturdy ball-winning defender could have made use of his high profile to make another move and the interest surrounding him scared Monaco into extending his contract during the transfer period.