Marko Grujic proved he’s in limbo on Thursday evening. The Serbian is in a difficult situation at Liverpool that has no easy answer.
You didn’t have to watch very closely to see that Marko Grujic was too good for Thursday’s Leauge Cup opponents, Lincoln City. Fans were certainly impressed.
But it wasn’t surprising. The Serbian has just played two seasons in the Bundesliga, after all, and came away with a solid reputation.
And in truth, playing in the League Cup is ‘beneath’ Grujic – that is to say, only playing in the League Cup is beneath him. Grujic is far too good to be a cup player and that puts him in a tough spot.
Stuck in the middle
Grujic is, without any doubt, good enough to play in the Premier League. He’s good enough to perform in any league on the planet, in fact. He proved that with Hertha BSC, showing himself to be a very handy midfielder.
Thus he’s undoubtedly too good to be relegated to just playing with teenagers in the cups this season. He’s a player who should play week in, week out in a top league – be that the Premier League, Bundesliga, or any other you care to mention.
But is he good enough for Liverpool’s first-team? Probably not. Grujic is good, yes, but Liverpool have built an outstanding amount of depth in midfield.
They have club captain Jordan Henderson – the FWA Player of the Year. They have Gini Wijnaldum, reportedly courted by Barcelona. Fabinho, one of the world’s best defensive midfielders. Then there’s £52m Naby Keita and £35m Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Curtis Jones is one of the brightest prospects in years.
And all of that was before Liverpool added Thiago, indisputably one of the best in the world. Everyone involved is a European champion, outside of Jones, and all won the Premier League last year, outside of Thiago.
So Grujic, for all he has proven, hasn’t proven that he should play ahead of any of those.
What to do?
Grujic’s performances in Germany mean he carries a certain price-tag. The Mirror recently reported that Liverpool believe that tag is around £20m. But this might not be the year to get that price.
While elite clubs can still afford to spend, anyone below that – particularly outside of English football’s enormous TV deal – will suffer from a lack of match-day revenue.
And thus they surely can’t afford to spend £20m on a player.
So while Grujic is good enough to command a hefty price and not quite good enough for Liverpool, the Reds may not be able to sell him. And in that case, what do they do?
We simply don’t see an easy answer. The Liverpool Echo believes Liverpool aren’t entertaining any more loan deals, which means he either stays or goes.
Liverpool may have to settle for a cut-price fee, then. And perhaps that’s the only answer – wait until the end of the window and see what clubs are willing to pay.
It’s not the best way to do things but it could be the only option.