Buxton: Klopp must drop Lovren before it's too late
Croatian defender's unforced errors have cost the team again and again
Dejan Lovren is no longer the architect of Liverpool's mistakes. He is the mistake.
Juergen Klopp cannot see the wood for the trees and, seemingly, neither can the Croat.
Reds legend Jamie Carragher's advice that Lovren should "get back in the dressing room" after costing his side maximum points against Everton on Sunday clearly fell on deaf ears.
Storming through the bowels of Anfield after the game, he criticised and castigated anyone who dared disagree that he was the wronged party in conceding a late penalty.
Short-sighted though it may have been, Klopp's greatest folly was not omitting Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho from his starting line-up in the Merseyside Derby.
It was that, despite everything, the heavily maligned defender's name remained on his team sheet.
Through it all, the Liverpool manager's patience with Lovren appears limitless when some of his teammates have found themselves marginalised for less.
But that special treatment must finally run out when West Brom travel to Merseyside tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
Individually and collectively, the 28-year-old has cost Klopp's side at least nine points in all competitions.
Everton are not alone in benefiting from Lovren's unforced errors. Tottenham, Sevilla and Watford also prospered before them.
Four fatal mistakes from 18 games is still four too many, particularly for a player with over 100 outings and supposedly at the peak of his career.
Had Liverpool not disgraced themselves with a ham-fisted pursuit of Virgil van Dijk last summer, they could have been sitting second in the EPL, two points clear of Manchester United and closing the gap on runaway leaders Manchester City to just nine points.
The Dutch centre back is by no means faultless but still far less error-prone than Lovren.
Be it next month or in the summer transfer window, Klopp has to right the wrongs of the van Dijk saga.
Until that time comes, however, the German coach must come to terms with the fact that Lovren is unlikely to improve, no matter how many opportunities he is afforded.
Klopp is no stranger to handing a baptism of fire to youngsters, particularly this season.
Dominic Solanke, 20, was plunged into the spotlight against both Everton and Stoke City in recent weeks, while Trent Alexander-Arnold, 19, has found himself alternating with 20-year-old Joe Gomez at right back.
Gomez has deputised flawlessly in Nathaniel Clyne's prolonged absence, coming of age after a lengthy injury layoff had curtailed an impressive start to his Liverpool career.
Klopp had barely parked himself in the Anfield hot seat before losing the versatile defender's services.
Almost a decade Lovren's junior, the new England international has shown himself more than capable of operating at a level far above his under-performing teammate.
Versatility has been Gomez's greatest obstacle in making a positional shift into a preferred role of central defence.
Fragile confidence is also a non-issue, with the youngster showing no signs of copying the hissy fits which have become as synonymous with Lovren as his costly errors.
Klopp saw, from a distance, the damage that Mario Balotelli inflicted on the former manager.
If Brendan Rodgers had his time again at Liverpool, indulging the Italian striker would certainly not be on his to-do list.
It ultimately cost his side a place in the Champions League.
Lovren may not be as incendiary as Balotelli's maverick personality but he remains no less catastrophic.
History could repeat itself if Klopp does not belatedly see the error of his ways.