Liverpool have officially begun their January transfer business by confirming the arrival of Marko Grujic from Red Star Belgrade. The Serbian U21 international becomes Jurgen Klopp's first signing since succeeding Brendan Rodgers as manager in October, but he will not feature for the club this season as he returns to Stadion Rajko Mitic on a loan deal.
Grujic's move to Anfield has been public knowledge since December, when Red Star Belgrade's sporting director Zvezdan Terzic claimed that the player would sign a five-year contract at Merseyside and receive a €1.2m (£881,104, $1.2m) annual salary, in addition to being handed the number eight shirt yet to be reallocated following the departure of long-serving captain Steven Gerrard last summer.
Although The Guardian have previously suggested that Chelsea, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain also showed an interest in the player, Red Star soon ended any ongoing speculation with regards to his future by confirming publicly that they had accepted an offer of £5.1m from Liverpool, while rejecting rival bids from Anderlecht and Stuttgart.
Liverpool have now also announced the deal, with Grujic telling the club's official website: "I'm very excited and so proud to be here and a member of Liverpool Football Club. I can't wait to get started, play at Anfield and train at Melwood.
"I was thinking about my progress in my next period and decided it was good for me to come here and try to be the best I can. I want to play in front of one of the loudest set of fans in Europe at Anfield. I also like the atmospheres at other stadiums, the crowds are very good. I like to play under pressure and that's why I've come here – because it brings out the best in me."
With Liverpool currently in the midst of another injury crisis, it seems very unlikely that Grujic will be the only signing made by Jurgen Klopp before the transfer window closes for business on 1 February. Already missing the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, Divock Origi, Martin Skrtel, Mamdou Sakho and Danny Ings, the club's fitness problems were further exacerbated during the Capital One Cup semi-final first-leg victory at Stoke on 5 January as Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren were both withdrawn before half-time due to hamstring problems.
On signing Grujic, Klopp added: "We're very pleased because Marko is a big talent and we've seen him a lot of times. When I came here, our scouts showed me some footage of a very skilled player from Red Star Belgrade.
"We watched it, we spoke to him, we met each other – he's a good boy, a young boy but plays an important role at the moment at Red Star, who are the best team in Serbia. To describe him, I would say he's a tall boy, but quick and good at technical things. He can play passes and can dribble. But he is young, so he has to develop. He will do this, so everything is OK."