Liverpool look to have gotten their January incomings done bright and early, securing Virgil van Dijk in a world record transfer deal five days before the window even opens. With such an outlay already on the books, few glaring weaknesses in the squad, and the very real difficulty with finding value for money in the winter window, one can assume the Reds won’t be looking to bring more players in until the end of the season.
The same certainties do not hold true in the opposite direction, however, and while it seems entirely implausible — despite the neverending cascade of assurances from Catalan media that a deal is juust around the corner — the club will allow Philippe Coutinho to join Barcelona just yet, there are players on the fringe of the first team that will be available, should the right offer come in. Danny Ings, Jon Flanagan and Daniel Sturridge could all be subject to offers in the coming month, and then there is the subject of youth development.
Since taking charge at Anfield, Jürgen Klopp has been remarkably gun-shy about retaining and loaning out youth players, electing to get rid of those with no immediate prospects of playing first team football, while largely keeping those who are retained at Melwood to train with the first team and compete at youth level. Right now, only three players are out on long-term loans, and Klopp insists that the majority of his promising prospects won’t be going anywhere, but if rumours out of Birmingham are to be believed, at least one of them is attracting serious interest.
Marko Grujic has only played 109 minutes of first team football this season, with 90 of those coming in the EFL Cup exit against Leicester City. That’s 19 minutes of football in proper, serious competitions at the halfway point of the season, and the Serbian getting itchy feet would be completely understandable, particularly with the top four race heating up and the Champions League round of 16 looming. Luckily, Steve Bruce and his promotion-chasing Aston Villa side are all but ready to provide the 21-year old with all the playing time he desires.
Whether Klopp will go for it is anyone’s guess, but it seems certain that Grujic himself would benefit more from genuine first team action on a weekly basis — even if it does take place in English football’s second tier — than he does from stomping on U21s every now and then, and competing in a ten-team dogfight for promotion would likely see the former Red Star midfielder return to Merseyside a better player.