Former Premier League defender Alan Hutton believes that Marko Grujic may need to consider leaving Liverpool permanently this summer, fearing for the on-loan midfielder’s prospects of establishing himself at Anfield.
The 24-year-old was the first player that Jurgen Klopp signed since taking the reins at Liverpool four seasons ago but he has failed to establish himself on Merseyside, making only 14 first team appearances since coming to the club in January 2016 and currently into his second season on loan at Hertha Berlin.
Hutton believes that, given Grujic’s age profile and struggles for Anfield recognition, as well as the strength of midfield options already at Klopp’s disposal, the future at Liverpool does not look too bright for the Serbia international.
The ex-Scotland defender told Football Insider: “Liverpool are so strong. Their squad, team, first eleven and people coming in from the sidelines – it is very difficult to break in. If you have not done it by the age of 24 the writing is on the wall.
“This is an age where you want to be playing football. You do not want to go on loan for a year, come back, a pre-season with Liverpool and then another loan. You want to be settled in your football and your personal life. It is at the stage where he will be looking to leave on a permanent basis.”
Hutton’s concerns about the long-term Liverpool future of Grujic are understandable. The Serbian was a budding teenager when the Reds signed him back in 2016 but, having turned 24 on Monday, he is fast approaching what should be the prime years of his career. Instead, he has found himself loaned out for the last two years, firstly to Cardiff and then to Hertha Berlin, in order to accrue regular game-time.
Grujic has at least managed to hold down a regular starting spot for the Bundesliga club, for whom he has scored eight goals in 45 games, and he has shown some decent attacking instincts during his time in Germany. His match average of 1.4 shots is bettered only by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain among Liverpool’s midfield and his average of 1.4 successful dribbles per game is superior to all of the Reds’ current options in the middle of the park.
Whether those traits will be enough for the 24-year-old to force his way into Klopp’s plans at Anfield remains to be seen. Having not had any sustained chance to prove his worth at his parent club and subsequently gleaned ample first team experience elsewhere, Grujic deserves a fair opportunity at Liverpool next season to show whether he is good enough to hold down a place in the Reds’ midfield.
However, if he falls short in that mission, it is hard not to feel that Hutton is justified in saying that he would need to move on from Anfield and seek to properly establish himself elsewhere now that he is rapidly approaching his mid-20s.
Liverpool fans, do you think Hutton is right to fear for Grujic’s Anfield future or do you still give the Serbian a chance of making it on Merseyside? Join in the discussion by commenting below!