One of the youngsters in the Liverpool squad who is expected to make a big name for himself could have been playing somewhere else this season. Marko Grujic, who was the first player signed by Jurgen Klopp in January 2016, was expected to join Chelsea rather than Liverpool.
According to the Times journalist Tony Barret, the 20-year-old midfield would have been part of the Blues had it not been for the sacking of Jose Mourinho last season.
“Grujic was recommended to Chelsea by their scouting department last year only for the proposed deal to go awry as a result of Jose Mourinho’s dismissal. Liverpool were left in pole position to complete the signing”.
This certainly comes as surprising news to many since most believed that Liverpool had taken a march on their rivals to sign the dynamic midfielder. In fact, Klopp even called Grujic and convinced him to sign for the Reds. The Serbian even stated that he had chosen the Merseyside club over others such as Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Chelsea could very well have gotten their man as they were also one of the clubs linked with a move for the highly rated 20-year-old.
Grujic, who can play in a number of positions, did get a few games for the Reds this season and has looked comfortable.
Performances getting better with each game
The midfielder has taken part in four games this season but his best performances have come in the EFL Cup. The 20-year-old was decent in the match against Tottenham in the last round and will hope that he can make it into the first team of the Liverpool side soon.
The Serbian is just one of a number of talented youngsters that are coming through the ranks at Anfield and it would not be a surprise to see him in the starting XI for most of the EFL and FA Cup games this season.
Grujic can play as a defensive midfielder or a box-to-box one as well. In Jurgen Klopp’s midfield setting, however, each player in the centre of the park has to move about and do a lot of passing and tackling. Grujic is known for his tough tackling and his composure with the ball at his feet.
The former Red Star Belgrade player might not be the complete package yet but he is in great hands under Klopp and should only get better with time. In all possibility, his move to Liverpool was actually good for him as playing for the Blues, he probably would not have gotten these many chances to impress in the starting XI.
Grujic has started off well and he needs to keep working hard if he is to catch the eye of Klopp for a role in the Premier League as well.
Liverpool have the last laugh at Napoli manager and star after nasty comments
The Reds beat their Italian rivals to march into the next round of the competition, and Alisson had the last laugh as he blocked Arkadiusz Milik’s stoppage-time effort.
All Napoli needed to do was avoid defeat, or lose by a one-goal margin after scoring at Anfield. However, some comments made by the manager and a star player will surely haunt them.
Carlo Ancelotti was the Chelsea manager earlier in his career and knows all about Liverpool, and the Mirror shared some of his quotes regarding this fixture from a month back.
The Italian was speaking after their win over Red Star on matchday five and was confident of making it through (h/t Mirror):
“We have been a real surprise in this group and I think those same people would be even more surprised if we manage to go through the next stage.
“If we don’t qualify instead we can call ourselves… a***holes.
“At this stage of the competition I truly believe that if we don’t qualify we should call ourselves a***holes.”
“My strongest memory is that they have a sign saying ‘This is Anfield’ and everyone was talking about it, so I was thinking it’s very big, you know,”
“I came through the tunnel and I asked, ‘Where is the thing?’ and they said you missed it and I hadn’t noticed it.
“So in the second half, I’m looking at this small thing and asking, ‘is this so special?'”
The last thing anyone needs to do is rile up Liverpool in a European game. Napoli, hopefully, have learnt their lesson now.
Liverpool interested in 18-year-old Championship starlet from Leeds United
Marcelo Bielsa’s side are doing very well in the Championship and sit second in the table as they look to gain promotion.
The forward has attracted the attention of several Premier League clubs as the report adds that Chelsea, Everton and Manchester City are keeping tabs on the Englishman.
The report claims that Clarke signed his first professional contract when he turned 17 and is valid until 2021, hence the player will not come on the cheap.
Liverpool invested heavily in the summer window with four first-team players coming, and it will be interesting to keep an eye on our activity in January.
Jurgen Klopp has worked wonders with some of the youngsters at Liverpool, and Clarke’s development could be better under our youth team coaches.
It would be unlikely for Clarke to slot straight into our first-team as the Reds have a lot of competition in the midfield and attack.
The Reds lead the Premier League after 16 games, and with the right investment in the side, we could make it a real title race against Manchester City.
Liverpool could face some tough sides in knockout round of the Champions League – but here is why they can beat them all
Liverpool did it the hard way, but they did it. The Merseyside club made it into the last 16 of the Champions League with a 1-0 win over Napoli, and there were some heart-stopping moments along the way.
From Sadio Mane’s misses to Alisson’s big save in stoppage, this match certainly lived up to its billing and Anfield was a bundle of energy pushing the Reds towards victory.
In all honesty, Liverpool should have won this game by a comfortable margin, but things are never easy for us.
Our poor away form saw us lose all three group games not held at Anfield, and this played a huge role in us finishing second in the group behind PSG.
Last season, we topped the group and we got a decent tie in the first knockout game with a trip to Porto. Of course, the Estadio do Dragao is a difficult place to visit but we won the first-leg 5-0.
Expecting something similar seems a bit of a stretch, given who all we could face in the first knockout round.
Tough tie awaits Liverpool
Finishing second means we will face one of the other group winners in this season’s competition. We can’t face a Premier League side as UEFA rules prohibit same country teams meeting in the first knockout round, and our possible opponents could be:
Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, Porto, Bayern Munich/Ajax, Lyon, Real Madrid/Roma, Juventus.
That makes for some tough games, and if things work in our favour we could be drawn against a Porto or Ajax, but that’s wishful thinking.
There is another issue we have to keep in mind with Virgil van Dijk missing the first leg of the knockout round due to his yellow card against Napoli.
Liverpool have been excellent in the Premier League but their performances in Europe haven’t been outstanding this season.
However, to progress, they need to get some things right.
Liverpool need to tweak things to get the best out of the side
Jurgen Klopp has tweaked a lot with his formation this season, and it has worked more often than not. Shifting from the crazy heavy metal 4-3-3 last season, the German has deployed a safer 4-2-3-1 with Mohamed Salah leading the line and Roberto Firmino playing behind the Egyptian.
This pragmatic approach makes it difficult for teams to break us down but our attack isn’t as fluid as it was last season.
The Reds struggled with their 4-3-3 in Europe this season, and some of our worst displays actually came with this formation in use.
Looking at the opposition, only the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona should scare the Reds. We have a decent record against Borussia Dortmund with that magical night in the Europa League a couple of years ago.
Further, Bayern Munich aren’t the dominant force they were under Pep Guardiola and have already lost three Bundesliga games this season.
The Reds should keep playing their 4-2-3-1 formation and possibly field Naby Keita in behind Roberto Firmino.
The Guinea midfielder has the guile and ability to run past defences with his dribbling, while Firmino can stretch any defence with his movement.
Shifting Salah out wide to the right might be a risk after his exploits down the middle, but this makes us play similar to what we did last season.
The Egyptian was brilliant down the right against Napoli and he seems to be hitting form at the right moment.
The trio of attackers need to find their verve, and fortunately, we seem to be heading on the right track if the last few games are taken into consideration.
The midfield is where we should see more change with Fabinho starting more games in Europe alongside Jordan Henderson.
The Brazilian is a shield to our defence but is capable of threading the needle too. The pair of Fabinho and Keita have been picking up in recent games, and their partnership will be crucial in our Champions League run.
We have toned down the Gegenpressing in the first half of the season, but that surely has to change once we face some of the tougher sides.
The defence and our goalkeeper are possibly the best in England, and one of the best in Europe, so we aren’t worried about that.
The Reds are in great touch now, and qualifying for the knockout round will have given us more confidence.
We beat Napoli at home, we beat PSG at home, and frankly, we shouldn’t worry about who we face in the next round.
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