Dejan Lovren said he was ‘one of the best defenders in the world’ before World Cup final defeat, ‘deliberately elbowed’ Sergio Ramos and will now eye revenge against Chelsea rival Mateo Kovacic with Zenit tonight

Dejan Lovren is set to return to Stamford Bridge this evening to face Chelsea for the first time since leaving Liverpool last year.

The former Southampton centre-back joined the Reds in 2014 and made 185 appearances for the club, scoring eight goals.

Zenit are top of the Russian Premier League with Lovren at the back
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Lovren enjoyed Premier League and Champions League successes, as well as claiming silverware in the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup.

And the veteran Croatian claimed Liverpool missed him more than he missed them in light of the Reds’ injury crisis at centre-back last term.

But many Reds fans weren’t as convinced with Lovren infamous for the numerous mistakes he made during his time at Anfield.

The defender never lacked confidence in his abilities however – even claiming that he should be regarded as one of the best defenders in the world ahead of the 2018 World Cup final.

He said: “I showed that I took Liverpool to the Champions League final and now with my national team we are in the final.

“I think people should recognise that I’m one of the best defenders in the world and not just talk nonsense I will say.”

Lovren left Liverpool in 2020 after six years of service
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Lovren was on the losing side in both the Champions League and World Cup finals that year with the former involving an injury to Mohamed Salah.

But the 32-year-old got his revenge on Sergio Ramos for his challenge on Salah when he left one on him in Croatia’s win over Spain six months later.

He said: “I deliberately hit Ramos after hurting Salah? Yes, this is possible.

“Luka Modric tried to reduce the tension between me and Ramos, and we were facing Spain together with the Croatian national team, and I deliberately hit him with my elbows and told him that we have drawn now.”

Liverpool fans never quite knew which Lovren (left) would show up for matches but he is a Premier League winner and European champion
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Tonight, Lovren faces Croatian teammate Mateo Kovacic in Zenit St Petersburg’s opening Champions League clash with Chelsea – which is live on talkSPORT.

And the ex-Lyon star may be out for revenge on the Blues midfielder as well after his cheeky dig at his compatriot’s defending back in 2018.

Kovacic memorably name-dropped Lovren when quizzed on Liverpool’s title chances during a charity event with Croatia.

“Liverpool will not be England champions,” he said, according to local website 24 Sata. “Why? Well because they have Dejan Lovren.”

Kovacic was ultimately proved correct as Liverpool missed out on domestic glory later that season by a single point to rivals Manchester City.

The 27-year-old also got one over Lovren while at Real Madrid in the 2018 Champions League final and will be confident of replicating the feat following a fine start to the new campaign.