Marko Grujic, he loves a good pre-season goal doesn’t he. He scored a sensational one against Barcelona last summer and another screamer against Tranmere this time around.
At 21, the young Serbian international is facing a big season at Liverpool this season. Grujic was one of Klopp’s first signings as Liverpool manager when the club splashed out £5.1 million for him in January 2016 from Serbian side Red Star Belgrade.
Instead of joining up with Liverpool straight away, Grujic stayed on with the Serbian club and help them win the Serbian league title.
At 6’3 Grujic has the potential to add steal to Liverpool’s midfield. Last season was meant to be his breakthrough season, but it was interrupted by injuries. He made 5 substitute appearances for the club last year with 3 of them coming in the last 5 games of the season.
In the games he did play for Liverpool he showed he was not afraid to go forward. While he only created the one chance, his pass completion rate was 81%, with 67.7% of those being forward passes.
Grujic is yet to start a competitive game for the Reds but rumblings from within the club insist that he has a future with Liverpool, and that Klopp sees him as one for the future (yes I know he is the same age as Emre Can).
In some circles has been dubbed the new Nemanja Matic and has being compared to both Yaya Toure and Patrick Viera due to his dynamism, eye for a pass and his comfort on the ball. This kind of commentary is something I hate to see happening to young players.
Labelling them as the next Matic, Viera or Toure adds undue pressure to the player to perform at a high level while they are still learning their trade.
Grujic is definitely a player for Liverpool’s future. With the battle for places hotting up in Liverpool’s midfield, this pre-season the onus is on the young Serb to show his manager that he deserves a starting role next season in Liverpool’s midfield.
While I expect to see him get game time in some of the domestic cups, as Klopp will be forced to rest players, I’m hoping to see him feature more in the Premier League next year. He has the ability to be Liverpool’s new midfield general and everyone connected to Liverpool is aware of his talents. When playing last season for Liverpool’s U-23 team, he was by far the stand out player.
Again, at this summer’s U-21 competition, Grujic was one of the players who impressed. While he was guilty of committing silly fouls, this is something that Klopp is aware of and is something that can be worked on in the training pitch. His ability to move from box to box at speed is something that will stand him in good stead.
Having Grujic in the team should bridge the gap between Can and a more attacking midfielder such as Philippe Coutinho or Adam Lallana. Ideally I would like to see him paired alongside Can. Playing alongside Grujic would allow Can to play his preferred deeper role, while Grujic moves forward with the Liverpool attack.
Due to the injuries he suffered last season, it will take time for Grujic to adjust to the rigours of playing in the Premier League on a weekly basis. But when he came on as a substitute last season he looked far from intimated and showed glimpses of what he could bring to Liverpool’s midfield.
While all the hype is currently around Neby Keita, if Jurgen Klopp can keep Grujic fit next season then the purchase of Keita will have been a bit premature.
While Keita has shown his qualities this season, I believe that Grujic, given a run of games can prove to be just as influential to Liverpool as Keita was at Leipzig last season in the Bundesliga.
Featured image by Sukru Gusroy