Jack Hallows was thoroughly impressed by Liverpool’s Marko Grujić in the Reds first pre-season fixture against Tranmere Rovers.
He just loves a pre-season goal, doesn’t he!? And what a goal to be fair to the lad.
The towering midfielder endured a nightmare first season on Merseyside as injuries limited him to a handful of substitute first-team appearances and a lot of Under-23s football, so to see him receive the ball 25-yards out, take a touch to steady himself and then unleash a powerful thunderbolt of a shot into the far corner filled me with great pleasure.
Grujic belter 🔥 pic.twitter.com/UNOq9LXkoH
— Anfield Leak (@AnfieldLeak) July 12, 2017
The 21-year old became somewhat of a forgotten man last campaign and it was very easy to forget just how much he impressed last summer when he returned from his loan back to Red Star Belgrade. From a goal during his first ever outing in a Liverpool shirt, to THAT header against Barcelona at Wembley, Grujić just looked to go from strength to strength.
The Serbian is equally capable of operating as a holding midfielder, a box-to-box option and even as advanced as playing in the 10 but it was in the more advanced of the box-to-box ‘floating 8’ roles that he managed such an impressive impact last night and it certainly seems to be his best position.
Grujić combined his physicality, stature and surprising silkiness on the ball to great effect in the Reds midfield, carrying the ball forward well and holding off opposition midfielders with ease.
His physicality allowed him extra time on the ball to spray passes out to both full backs as Milner and Alexander-Arnold looked to make themselves the primary sources of Liverpool’s width, while his ability to keep the ball glued to his foot when dribbling helped to keep the Reds high up the field.
An issue discussed heavily last season was the Reds seeming lack of height and physicality in their side at times with the likes of Lallana, Coutinho, Clyne, Milner and even Sadio Mané to an extent being bullied by sides more willing to get into a physical skirmish. A growing presence from Grujić, however, could see that change this season.
If Liverpool do manage to complete the signing of RB Leipzig’s Naby Keïta, Klopp will have an absolute plethora of midfield options on hand to combat any kind of scenario.
The likes of Keïta, Lallana, Coutinho and Henderson will have a huge part to play when high pressing, quick passing and smart interplay are required but the Reds will no longer be bullied by physical sides such as West Brom, Burnley or Crystal Palace when they’re able to field a trio of Emre Can, Gini Wijnaldum and Marko Grujić.
Of course, I may be jumping the gun and there’s no guarantee that the Serbian will be a hit this season, even if he keeps himself fit and firing but the early signs are admittedly nothing but encouraging.
The big man will be able to offer another dimension to the Reds midfield, helping them cope with extra physical battles, while his ability to dribble with the ball glued to his boot and slip impressive through balls in behind opposition defences means the Reds will not have to sacrifice penetration in order to include more solidity.