Dejan Lovren is closing on an unexpected move to Russia to end his six-year spell at Liverpool.
Croatian defender Lovren has appeared for the Reds 185 times since arriving in a £20m deal from Southampton in 2014.
However, with just a year left on his contract, he will be allowed to move on this summer.
We reported earlier in the year that Lovren will have his pick from a four London clubs, while Roma and Napoli were also keen.
But The Times claims Lovren is, in fact, set to move to Zenit St Petersburg.
According to Russian journalist Andrey Pankov, of Russia outlet Championship, Lovren could make the move as a free agent. That’s because Lovren has an ‘agreement’ with Liverpool that he can leave early.
Reports suggest Jurgen Klopp has sanctioned the departure due to his outstanding service to the club. It’s claimed the German doesn’t want to force the centre-half to stay with the club and sit on the bench.
Times reporter Paul Joyce later tweeted to say Liverpool do hold a one-year option on Lovren’s deal.
That means he is effectively contracted to the Reds until 2022 – meaning claims of a free transfer may be premature.
Liverpool have an additional year option on Dejan Lovren's contract which means he is effectively tied to the club until the summer of 2022. That will affect his price tag as interested clubs, such as Zenit St Petersburg, believed he had one year left on his deal.
— paul joyce (@_pauljoyce) July 13, 2020
Last September, Lovren admitted Klopp convinced him to stay at Anfield for another season.
“I wanted to leave, it didn’t happen, I was told Liverpool need me and I accepted that,” he said.
“It was not meant to be for me to leave.
“Last week I spoke to Klopp again. He told me he understands me, knows I am not happy, but he also said: ‘Look, now it [the transfer window] is finished, I want you to reset your head, you’re important’.”
Liverpool, of course, have Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk as their first choice defensive pairing.
The Premier League champions also have Joel Matip to call on, while Fabinho can fill in when required. Furthermore, they have also been linked with the likes Ben White and Kalidou Koulibaly as replacements.
Lovren ‘always ready’
Lovren has played just 17 minutes since the resumption, in the 0-0 draw at Everton.
But he’s been nursing a slight injury and will leave with Liverpool’s best wishes.
The defender, back on the bench in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Burnley, insists he will always be ready to play while a Liverpool player.
He told Sky Sports: “I’m always ready. If someone is injured and coming off, I’m ready to step in and show my quality. I think I proved that last season, when Joe Gomez or Joel Matip were injured and I came in and played.
“My goal is to play and to win as many trophies as possible. After that, we will see what happens.”
Lovren admits he just wants to play regular football, adding: “Of course, it’s not the happiest moment when I see myself on the bench, but it’s the decision of the manager. I respect it and I am always the guy who will work 200 per cent behind closed doors.”