Marko Grujic's loan deal was a shrewd piece of business by Liverpool
The 21-year old Serbian mid-fielder has breathed fresh life into Cardiff City’s fight to get promoted to the Premier League. Neil Warnock has lavishly praised Marko Grujic right from the time he signed him but very few Cardiff fans were excited about having him.
Many did not like the deal with Liverpool which explicitly stated that Grujic had to play 14 games, failing which Cardiff will have to pay Liverpool!
The Serbian made his professional debut in May’13 for Red Star Belgrade in a Serbian Superliga match. He played an integral role in Red Star Belgrade’s run of 19 consecutive victories in the first half of the 2015-16 season. Grujic’s excellent performance attracted interest from prominent clubs like Juventus, Chelsea, Liverpool and Milan.
However, Klopp convinced him to come to Anfield and despite his father's initial objection, he signed for a fee of £5.1m in Jan’16. He was loaned back to Red Star for the rest of the season. Red Star won that season with Grujic contributing 6 goals and 7 assists and he was voted into the Superliga team of the year.
Though he showed great promise early on at Liverpool and scored an amazing header against Barcelona during a pre-season friendly, Grujic found that Anfield’s midfield was really congested with experienced stars like James Milner, Henderson, Adam Lallana, Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum.
Whenever he did appear for Liverpool, it was evident that a lack of game time hurt his flow. There were several mispasses and an absence of fluidity in midfield.
With his spot in the Serbian national team under jeopardy, he decides to go out on loan to gain some experience. Primarily an offensive midfielder, he was asked by Neil Warnock to play the role of defensive midfielder protecting the back four.
Apart from a shaky start, he has helped reinforce Cardiff’s midfield. Since his arrival at Cardiff, they have won 8 of their last 10 games and drawn two.
Pundits have also noticed that he has a unique ability for a midfielder as his heading is top notch. In a match against Bolton Wanderers, he won all of his 15 aerial duels, something which any centre-back would be proud of.
At this point in time, the Bluebirds are just 6 points behind the Championship toppers Wolves and 7 points ahead of third-placed Fulham. This ensures an automatic promotion to the Premier League if they can hold on.
The shrewdness with which Liverpool executed this loan deal has not only given Grujic valuable play time, it has given them an option to have cover for the inevitable transfer of Emre Can. With Can moving on on a Bosman, Liverpool will at least be able to rely on Grujic to play a defensive role that he already plays at Cardiff.
Though there are plenty of players being discussed to replace Can at Anfield, trying to get a talented youngster up to speed through a loan deal will help Liverpool from being held at ransom by an inflated market.