The average Liverpool fan must have punched the words ‘Marko Grujic’ into both Google and Twitter at least 10 times apiece so far today amid some exciting, and conflicting, reports.
It’s been widely expected for the best part of two weeks now that the 19-year-old Serbian midfielder will be a Liverpool player by the end of January, but while a fee and contract have been settled, nobody was expecting to see him at Anfield until 2016/17 with a loan move back to Red Star Belgrade almost a given.
However, media outlets in the player’s homeland have been reporting that the Kop side are keen to axe this initial agreement and get the teenager in NOW to help with the club’s top four push.
Excitement has reached dizzying highs since this, and just in case you have no idea who Grujic is (let’s be fair, that covers most football fans) here are some knowledge bombs for you…
Grujic’s real breakthrough at Red Star came last year. Although he was around the set-up last term and the season prior to that, so far in 2015/16 Grujic has been a part of a 22-game undefeated run, in which the giants of Eastern European football have picked up 20 wins, leaving them with a 25-point cushion at the summit of the Serbian top tier.
During the summer just gone Grujic also shone at international level, helping Serbia’s U-20s to World Cup glory.
Ah, a bit awkward this… Speaking earlier this year, although it must be said this was amid interest from Chelsea, Grujic said: “The Premier League is a league where I’d like to play, and my favourite club abroad is Chelsea.”
Given that Liverpool and Chelsea’s relationship can be described as frosty – the ‘Ghost goal’, countless Champions League clashes and the Steven Gerrard ‘slip’ – this is unlikely to go down too well on the Kop. Alas, we all said stupid things in out teenage years…
The comparisons have been plentiful. Depending on which nation’s media you pay attention to he’s the ‘new Nemanja Matic (Serbia), ‘Paul Pogba’ (Italy) or ‘Steven Gerrard’ (England and Serbia). Although similar monikers have been thrust on players in the past – Bruno ‘Zidane’ Cheyrou springs to mind – the 19-year-old doesn’t look dissimilar to the aforementioned names given his sizable frame (6ft. 3”) and his desire to drive from box-to-box.
Oh, he also has the tendency to score some absolute screamers, too (above).
At 19, this kind of goes without saying. Yet, it’s true, so any Liverpool fans expecting an instant impact should temper their expectations. Grujic has only really been on the scene at Red Star for just over six months after spending time on loan with Serbian minnows Kolubara after making his initial Belgrade breakthrough in 2013.
Further to this, Grujic is yet to represent the Serbian senior international side, while his experience of European club football is minimal following his side’s Europa League qualification exit at the hands of FC Kairat of Kazakhstan earlier this season.
If one was being cynical one could suggest that Grujic’s father’s recent comments on not wanting his son to join Liverpool were made in a bid to get his name out in the media. Goran Grujic is well known on the Serbian sporting scene after a decent career as a sports journalist in his homeland – he was editor-in-chief at one of the biggest newspapers in the country.