Despite manager Jürgen Klopp’s praise, it’s been clear that Marko Grujić has some work to do if he is going to force his way into the Liverpool first team picture next year. The 22-year-old midfielder had a modestly productive loan spell at Cardiff City before being sent to Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin back in August on a one-year loan, with management hoping that the playing style in Berlin would translate to more minutes for Grujić.
Since heading the Germany, Grujić has made just seven appearances for Hertha, thanks in part to an unfortunate ankle injury that sidelined him for several weeks. Since returning, however, Grujić has had the opportunity to make a good impression, and he did exactly that this past weekend. Grujić’s headed goal in the 40th minute - his first of the season - was the difference against Eintracht Frankfurt, and has put Hertha Berlin in the 6th spot in the league.
The player was clearly elated to contribute following his injury spell.
“When I scored, I was full of emotion and it was a very special moment,” said Grujić. “I am very happy to have scored. When the corner came in, I had a feeling I was going to score. It was a very important victory and now we are back in the top six.”
Hertha manager Pál Dárdai - tagged as being a little bit like Klopp by Grujić - was just as effusive in his praise for the Serbian midfielder, describing the player as Hertha Berlin’s best midfielder of the past 20 years, by some distance.
Grujić’s teammates were ready to echo that praise. Defender Fabian Lustenberger offered that “Marko brings everything - offensive quality, defensive stability, and aerial ability. You hear people talk about complete players, and [Marko] meets a lot of the criteria to do that as a central midfielder. We’re happy that he’s with us and that he’s fit again.”
It remains to be seen whether Grujić stakes a claim in Klopp’s setup next year. The player - who signed a contract extension tying him to Liverpool until 2023 - has indicated that he might be inclined to spend another year in Berlin if Hertha qualify for the Europa League. The best case scenario for Liverpool is if he can maintain good form, and present Klopp with a tough decision at the end of the season.