If there is one aspect of a young footballer’s career that ought not to be discarded, it is the process of integration. In recent years, it has been observed that some of the brightest youngsters in the spectrum have been burdened with the weight of expectation. Be it the exorbitant price tag or the player’s raw potential, managers across the globe have failed to realise these starlets must be protected from the weekly rigours of club football and should be given a window to settle into an environment relatively new to them.
Here lies the case of one of Liverpool’s seven new recruits this summer, Marko Grujic. The 20-year-old sensation signed for the Merseyside club in the January transfer window from Red Star Belgrade but was immediately loaned back to the Serbian giants for the rest of the season. He joined his new teammates in July and was heavily involved in Liverpool’s pre-season commitments. Grujic impressed manager Jürgen Klopp during that period, scoring three goals, including a superb header against Barcelona at Wembley. Despite beginning his career in England strongly, though, Grujic was not named in Liverpool’s starting line-up against Arsenal for their season opener at the Emirates. Subsequently, the youngster made a solitary appearance in his side’s next three league outings, a cameo against Burnley in a disappointing 2-0 defeat.
That does not bother the Serbian though. In fact, Grujic reiterated he would be happy to spend his first year at Liverpool as an understudy to the existing roster. He feels it is imperative for a player his age to acclimatize to a new country and culture at a reasonable pace and not rush into anything.
That said, he said he would be ready to show the Anfield faithful what he’s capable of in the 2017-18 season and those comments suggest he will not be involved in Liverpool’s domestic endeavours extensively.
The League Cup may be a competition more suited to his liking for now. Famously known as a breeding ground for academy players, Grujic might find himself beginning games for Liverpool there. His inclusion in each of Liverpool’s matchday squads in the league is a positive sign though and should Liverpool face an injury problem at some stage of the campaign, Grujic may be entitled with the first team responsibilities.
All that said and done, this appears to be a sensible decision from the youngster. Very few youngsters have exhibited the same degree of patience and maturity in this regard and Grujic is clear about his ambitions. This also suggests he wants to impress the Liverpool supporters and manager by putting his best foot forward. As things stand, the future looks promising for him.