With a partially self-inflicted defensive injury crisis hitting Liverpool just as the new year rolls around and the title race is beginning to heat up again, Reds fans will understandably be amenable to some good news. Perhaps a good transfer story will hit the spot. How about a young Dutchman coming off a season in which he scored or assisted a goal every 86 minutes? One who put himself on the map with an absolute belter against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League this year? Sound good?
There is a chance I have overstated the abilities of Arnaut Danjuma Groeneveld here. While all of the above is technically true, the 21-year old’s monster season took place at NEC Nijmegen, in the second tier of the Dutch league system, a league from which few, if any, players have made the direct transition to a top Premier League side.
Similarly, while the Nigerian-born winger undoubtedly did make Jan Oblak an onlooker with his dipping, swerving drive back in October, it took place in a match in which Groeneveld turned the ball over as often as he made a positive impact, and which his side decisively lost 3-1.
Currently plying his trade for Club Brugge in the Belgian Jupiler League, the former PSV prospect has been turning heads with his direct running and distance shooting this season, and odds are now being slashed that a January exit could be on the cards. AC Milan have already had a £9m offer rejected, but with Premier League giants Liverpool and Tottenham, as well as normal-sized Everton sniffing around, an offer the Blauw-Zwart just can’t refuse isn’t unlikely.
The raw talent is undoubtedly there; Groeneveld displays physical strength, excellent close control, a vicious strike of the ball and good decision making in the opposition box, but whether it will be enough to translate to the Premier League — and the upper echelons of it, no less — remains up in the air. An international debut and subsequent goal back in October are encouraging signs, while the 21-year old having sat out the past two months with an ankle injury is less so.
It may not be another instant-impact, big-money marquee signing Reds fans have grown accustomed to in transfer windows past, but if Jürgen Klopp is looking to add talented depth to his front line for a reasonable fee, Groeneveld may be a surprisingly apt solution.