LOAN-LY: WILL MARKO GRUJIC EVER GET A CHANCE AT LIVERPOOL?
Liverpool midfielder Marko Grujic has been involved in yet another loan deal, moving to FC Porto in Portugal ahead of the 2020/21 season.
The deal marks a fifth loan move for the Serbian since his move to Anfield back in January 2016, including stints at Boyhood club Red Star Belgrade, Cardiff City and two spells at Hertha Berlin.
The 24-year-old has impressed in recent years and you have to wonder whether he will ever get a proper chance with Jurgen Klopp’s Reds. Here we look at how Grujic could fit into Liverpool’s team and where he could reside in the 2021/22 season.
Option 1 - A Chance at Liverpool?
As mentioned above, Grujic has been at Liverpool for almost five years now, but has only managed 507 minutes of football over 16 appearances.
You can understand this really as Klopp has built a midfield powerhouse at Anfield with Grujic having to compete with several top Premier League quality midfielders like captain Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Fabinho to name a few.
But with talk of Wijnaldum leaving, with his contract expiry looming next summer added with the fact that large parts of the midfield are in or entering their 30’s, is there potential for Grujic to finally get a crack at breaking into the Liverpool side next season.
The signing of Thiago Alcantara doesn’t help Grujic’s case, however, with Klopp now being in possession of seven central midfielders, not including youngster Curtis Jones who has impressed when reprising the role.
One factor that holds Grujic in potential good stead however. His versatility in the centre of midfield.
Many see Grujic plainly as an anchoring midfielder who sits at the back of a midfield and cleans up, but this simply isn’t true.
He is defensively solid, but his attacking play is surprisingly strong as well. He registered some brilliant passing accuracy stats of 86% last term and is a threat in and around the box liking a long-range shot paired with his ability in the aerial battles.
He was rated very highly in Berlin with a quote from club stalwart Pal Darddai sticking out. “The best midfielder I’ve seen in my time at the club,” said the man who spent 22 years there as a player and manager.
Grujic Is a great player who deserves a chance, and with Klopp holding onto him for so long, maybe he is in fact in his future plans.
Option 2 - Another Loan Deal?
As said above, Grujic’s loan move to Porto is the Serbians fifth during his time at the club and you begin to wonder at the age of 24, why?
After a spell at Cardiff City in 2018, Grujic went on to play frequently and impress week in week out in the Bundesliga with Hertha and is now an experienced midfielder in European football.
It makes you partly question the judgement of Liverpool when they bought a player like Naby Keita for £54m back in 2017, who hasn’t particularly shone whilst Grujic has played so well in the background.
So why has the big man been sent out so often?
It realistically boils down to Klopp and his evaluation of Grujic each season.
Klopp does have an outrageously large number of midfielders and maybe doesn’t believe Grujic is ready to play consistently in Premier League just yet.
But could Klopp be cleverly forming a top Premier League player without the masses even realising?
By sending Grujic out each season, he is gaining some valuable first-team experience in different countries with different styles of football.
With players like James Milner, Henderson and Wijnaldum all in and around their 30’s as mentioned above, maybe Klopp is trying to build Grujic into a top player to come straight into the team when players move on to pastures new in the coming years.
It would not surprise me or many others if Grujic is shipped out again in the 2021/22 season, which could potentially be a final loan spell before a real chance in the Premier League Champions’ side.
Option 3 - Time to Move on?
Is it time for Marko Grujic to say goodbye to Merseyside and move on to a new home to get some regular permanent football?
We see Grujic going out on loan every season, but how happy is he to be told every year to get more experience and know he’s not in the frame at Liverpool.
It’s got to be a confidence knocker unless Klopp has promised a chance for the Serbian at some point in the future.
Grujic has proved himself to be a great player and would be snapped up for a handsome fee if Liverpool were to offer him to leave permanently.
After all, Chelsea, Juventus and Inter Milan were a few other top clubs vying for his signature back in 2016, a race which Liverpool won.
Could I personally see Grujic at another Premier League club?
No. I feel a league like the Bundesliga or Ligue 1 would suit him very much as they promote quality attacking football intertwined with solid defences showcased well by Bayern, PSG and Dortmund to give examples.
This would be a surprise, but I wouldn’t write it off.
Personally, I think that Grujic may face a sixth loan move next season after his spell at the Estadio do Dragao.
I would be extremely surprised if Klopp let Grujic go permanently, but would be as surprised if he kept him in the squad with the sheer depth they currently have in midfield at the moment.
Therefore, I think one more loan spell for Marko Grujic next campaign may be the final building block to the bridge that paves the way into the Liverpool first team.