Ronald Koeman has criticised Dejan Lovren for airing his grievances over Southampton’s unwillingness to sell him to Liverpool and has ordered him to return in time for pre-season training. He has admitted, though, that the Croatia defender could become the latest player to leave St Mary’s this summer.
Southampton’s new manager was determined to quell the uncertainty surrounding the club after the sales of Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert to Liverpool and Luke Shaw to Manchester United and is determined not to see his newly inherited squad ripped apart.
Lovren last week said his head was already at Anfield and expressed anger that Southampton have rejected Liverpool’s £20m bid for him.
“It’s the same in Holland that the young players don’t have the patience to wait for a bigger club,” Koeman said. “That’s part of football. They had a great season and they play wonderful games. I know Liverpool got a lot of money now after the [Suárez] transfer and normally they will spend that money and they will buy some players and maybe they will buy one player of Southampton.
“OK, that’s a normal question. But as a manager of Southampton I have to do everything to keep the best players. Again the final decision is of the board of the club.”
Koeman, who has signed Dusan Tadic from FC Twente as a replacement for Lallana, is confident of completing an £8m deal for the Feyenoord striker Graziano Pelle but he was displeased with Lovren for speaking out. He has ordered the 25-year-old to join the squad on Sunday for their tour of Belgium and has planned further talks with him.
“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. 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.”
Koeman maintained Southampton were not a selling club and said that the £57m recouped for Lallana, Lambert and Shaw should be enough. However Lovren is intent on leaving and Morgan Schneiderlin is a target for Tottenham Hotspur.
“That’s the situation,” Koeman said. “We are not a selling club. The players have contracts. We don’t sell any more players and we will keep to that. But we know what happens in football. We sold three players. That’s good enough. Enough money. Now we will keep the rest.
“That’s true, you want all the players happy and wanting to play. But if someone is unhappy, they can come to me and we talk. First we have to keep these players. That’s the job of the board. There is money to keep the quality and to bring new players in.”