The plan was for Marko Grujic to spend two years in Germany and return to England a more mature and polished player, one ready to take on a significant first team role for the Reds.
The reality was that Grujic returned to a club that, at least to the player, seemed as though it had little room for him last summer. The path to regular playing time only got more difficult when Thiago Alcantara was signed, and shortly afterwards Grujic left for FC Porto.
“After two years in the Bundesliga, I returned to England more mature,” Grujic told Belgrade’s Kurir this week. “But when Thiago came from Bayern, I estimated that there would not be much space for me.
“I didn’t want to gamble. I see now that there are a lot of injured players at Anfield, it is certain that I would get a chance, but I could not have foreseen that.”
With James Milner turning 35, Gini Wijnaldum potentially departing on a free this summer, and Naby Keïta continuing to struggle with injuries some might think the now 24-year-old Grujic might still have a role to play for his parent club.
To hear him talk about it, though, spending two years on loan and feeling like he returned to a club that didn’t seem eager to give him a much of a chance may have soured him on the Reds—a far cry from comments last year when Grujic regularly talked about a future with Liverpool.
“In every conversation, be it Klopp or one of the directors, they always remind me that I am a player of great potential,” the Serbian midfielder added. “But when I get into the system I don’t get a chance. It confuses me a little.
“I told the people from Liverpool that I wanted to play. Hertha, where I spent two beautiful years, was an option, as were some other Bundesliga sides, [but] Porto happened. They sold Danilo to PSG and needed a player with my characteristics.
“They wanted me and it was all done in a few hours. For me, Porto is a great option, a team fighting for the title and playing in the Champions League, a new experience.”