Liverpool have held positive talks with Serbian starlet Marko Grujic as they aim to beat Europe's elite to the midfielder's signature. The 19-year-old is a product of Red Star Belgrade's youth academy and was part of the Serbia side that won the Fifa Under-20 World Cup in the summer of 2015.
According to the Guardian, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain were among the clubs tracking the youngster but until recently, Chelsea were considered favourites to sign him. Grujic confirmed the club's interest when he told Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio: "Nemanja Matic is a friend. He plays for Serbia and has played for Chelsea for over a year. He tells me they want me."
But according to Serbian outlet Mozzart Sport, Liverpool have also joined the race and had scouts present as Red Star thrashed Cukaricki 7-2 on 6 November. Grujic also confirmed a meeting with officials from the Merseyside club.
"I'll be sure to respect the club and the fans, but again I think that for myself I have to choose the best environment where I will get the chance to work with good coaches in good conditions," he was quoted as saying by the same publication. "Something could happen but surely I am staying here until the end of qualifying for the Champions League. We had a talk with Liverpool but I did not make agreement. I am still a Red Star player."
Both Chelsea and Liverpool could face disappointment in their efforts to sign the player, though. Inter Milan are also in the race to sign the midfielder and the intervention of former Serbia international and current Nerazzurri assistant coach Dejan Stankovic could prove decisive in Grujic chosing a move to the San Siro.
"He [Stankovic] called me three weeks ago and Tuesday we will talk after the game against Slovenia. He told me to continue like this because Inter are following me," Grujic told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "At the end of the season I will go to Milan to talk to them [Inter]. It is a possible destination."