There was a time when Marko Grujic was expected to remain at Anfield for the 2020/21 campaign following impressive performances in the Carabao Cup against Lincoln City and Arsenal.
It seemed to be a breakout moment in the 24-year-old’s Liverpool career, hoping to show Jurgen Klopp and the club that they had under-utilised his talent.
However, it didn’t work out quite as Grujic may have hoped at the start of the season with the Serbia international being shipped out to Portugal with two-time European Cup winners FC Porto in a year-long loan move.
He has so far struggled to make himself a regular in the Portuguese champions’ starting XI.
A 45-minute appearance in Primeira Liga during the 3-2 defeat to Pacos Ferreira represents Grujic’s only start for Porto since his September move while a further 20-minute cameo against Portomonense is the only league action he has had since.
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In the Champions League, Grujic has contributed just 22 minutes of action during respective wins against Olympiacos and Marseille.
Can’t break into a winning team
Grujic simply has to be patient, even though he may be a bit sick of having to do so.
FC Porto are the reigning champions meaning Sérgio Conceição is sensibly trying to keep a winning team together with Mateus Uribe and Sérgio Oliveira currently preferred in central midfield.
This isn’t necessarily a reflection on Grujic. He just needs to stay patient and wait for an opportunity to open up.
Grujic was a late arrival in an extended transfer window, and Liverpool’s early and ongoing injury woes meant Klopp didn’t want to make a premature decision on whether the Reds would keep Grujic or not.
Liverpool currently have eight midfielders on the wage bill at Anfield -not including Grujic – while four of them (Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita) are currently injured.
Now with no more international breaks, the season will begin to shake out, and these aforementioned players will have the time to recover, shake out and get more acclimatised.
Grujic will hope the same applies to him too. He needs to make this loan spell count.
One bonus is that he is staying fit. During a season that has so far been blighted by injury, Liverpool can ill-afford for one of their loan stars not to make an impact given they failed to offload the £5 million [BBC] signing from Red Star Belgrade on a permanent deal during the summer window.
If the Reds are going to command a repsectable price for him in 2021, or if he is to have a future at Anfield, Grujic needs to become a regular at Porto.
Making the grade at the home of the Portuguese champions inevitably won’t come easy, but given his long-term aspirations are to play for the champions of England and the world, he will have to kick-on sooner rather than later.