With his team currently besieged by an injury crisis, Jurgen Klopp completed the first signing of his Liverpool tenure on 6 January as, after weeks of speculation, Red Star Belgrade midfielder Marko Grujic finally joined for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £5.1m ($7.4m). Those who hoped that the 19-year-old might be in a position to make an instant impact at Anfield were left disappointed, however, as he was immediately returned to his former club on loan until the end of the season.
Although he was an influential member of the Serbia side that triumphed over Brazil to win the Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand last year, a lack of senior caps and an absence of regular European football at club level means that the player may not be especially well known to Liverpool supporters in the United Kingdom.
So just what have Klopp's scouts seen in Grujic and what can the club expect from the player in future? IBTimes UK spoke to Red Star enthusiast and administrator of unofficial fan website Moja Crvena Zvezda (My Red Star) Aleksandar Kovacevic to get the lowdown on Merseyside's latest arrival:
"Marko is the modern box-to-box midfielder and it is certainly not unjustified for him to be compared with Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba and Yaya Toure," he said. "He is very tall and strong, but still very mobile and fast. He possesses a very strong and precise kick."
Since making his debut for Red Star in a resounding defeat at Vojvodina in May 2013 and proving his worth during a spell with second-tier outfit Kolubara, Grujic has gone from strength to strength. A hugely popular member of the squad, Anderlecht and Stuttgart both submitted formal offers for his services last month before Liverpool finally won the race.
Hamburg were also said to have expressed a serious interest in the player during the last summer transfer window, but Kovacevic believes he spurned several advances during that time in order to help Red Star, who have encountered serious financial difficulty over recent years, win only their second Serbian SuperLiga title since 2007 and finally return to the Champions League after being excluded from 2014/15 qualifying due to breaching Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.
"Last summer, Marko and his family rejected a few offers from Western Europe. Red Star fans, Delije, are certain that with his help, Red Star will be able to reach the Champions League next season. He has long said that he doesn't want to leave the club until Red Star wins the SuperLeague and qualifies for the Champions League group stage but despite his wishes, the club had to sell in order to pay for a Uefa license."
Red Star have simply dominated the latest domestic league season in Serbia and can currently lay claim to a record 19-match winning streak. Entering the current winter break with a 3-0 win at Javor Ivanjica, Miodrag Bozovic's side also boast a formidable 25-point buffer over nearest challengers Cukaricki and Borac Cacak and an incredible +50 goal difference.
The 1991 European Cup winners, who finished seven points adrift of fierce rivals Partizan in second last term, are unbeaten through their first 22 matches and have not even drawn a league game since July. Grujic has been a mainstay of that successful team with five goals in 21 appearances in 2015/15 to date, and Kovacevic is quick to praise the influence of one current team-mate in particular.
"Marko has great help from (former Ajax midfielder) Mitchell Donald. The more they played together, the more Marko was moved forward and he gained more assists and goals. He is the true star in the club and supporters adore him."
With Grujic remaining at Stadion Rajko Mitic until the end of the campaign, the question of whether or not he will be able to successfully adapt to the significant demands of English football will not be answered until season 2016/7 at the very least. His development may be enhanced by further loan stints, but ultimately the opportunity to work with a revered and charismatic coach of Klopp's standing should have a major impact on his fledgling career.
"My personal opinion is that Marko will be able to adapt to the English style of football and that he will be very important player in a few years' time," Kovacevic added. "It is essential that nobody puts pressure on him at the beginning. We all believe that working with Klopp will move his career forward."