According to the Liverpool Echo, Hertha Berlin are keen on extending the loan of Liverpool midfielder Marko Grujic for another year, after impressing in his first season at the Olympiastadion.
The Serbian midfielder has been a key figure in Hertha’s campaign this year, helping the side to a surprising 11th placed finish. In his 23 appearances for the club, the midfielder has scored five times and provided a further assist.
With the German side revealing their intentions to keep hold of the 23-year-old, it is easy to see why. According to the Bundesliga’s official website, Hertha boss Pal Dardai exclaimed last December: “I’ve been at Hertha for 22 years. This isn’t meant as an insult to anyone else, but Marko is by far the best midfielder I’ve seen in my time at the club.”
For Liverpool fans, hearing that kind of praise about Grujic is somewhat eyebrow-raising. The midfielder featured just 14 times in the two full seasons he was a part of Jurgen Klopp’s squad, and didn’t register a single goal or assist. But, with the Reds relying so heavily on their much-vaunted front three to score their goals, perhaps now is the time for Grujic to finally make his mark at Anfield.
As touched upon, if ever there was a criticism of Klopp’s side, it would perhaps revolve around their reliance on the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane to score the bulk of their goals. Despite spending just under £100m on two midfielders last summer in Naby Keita and Fabinho, neither signing truly addressed the issue of adding a goal-scoring option from deeper on the pitch.
In the Bundesliga last season, Grujic averaged 2.1 shots per game; almost double that of Keita (1.1), and significantly better than the other natural ‘box-to-box’ midfielder at the club Georginio Wijnaldum (0.9). Such has been Liverpool’s negligent attacking threat from midfield that Klopp has felt inclined to use Xherdan Shaqiri, a bona fide winger, as one of his deeper three to offer up more creativity.
It was always a constant source of debate, particularly in the games where sides would park the bus, that the Reds needed something extra. Could a midfield trio of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Wijnaldum/Keita really provide that added impetus? Indeed, aside from his propensity to test the goalkeeper, Grujic also averaged more key passes (0.7) and more dribbles (1.4) per game than all four of those midfield counterparts. Having that midfielder who can carry the game forward and take the burden off his strikers is akin to gold dust.
So, whilst it may not be the popular option nor the blockbuster signing Liverpool fans might crave of, keeping hold of Grujic rather than letting him leave on loan again next season, might be the sword up the sleeve that Klopp needs to wrestle the Premier League crown away from Manchester City.