Serbian starlet Marko Grujic arrived in Liverpool on Sunday evening ahead of the completion of his £5.1 million move from Red Star Belgrade.
The 19-year-old is expected to have a medical on Monday, and should be confirmed as the first signing under Jurgen Klopp on a five-year deal early in the week.
It was first reported Liverpool’s tracking of the teenager at the start of December, as well as how the club moved quickly to thwart several other European sides intent on recruiting him.
Grujic, whose blend of athleticism and intelligence means he can operate in either a deeper or an advanced midfield role, will return to Red Star on loan until the end of the season after finalising the formalities of his switch.
The Under-20 World Cup winner has netted five goals and provided seven assists this season as Red Star dominate the Serbian SuperLiga. The club are at the top of the table, 25 points ahead of their nearest competitors.
Red Star are enduring financial difficulty after nearly going out of business 18 months ago and could not reject Liverpool’s offer for their premier asset. The Merseysiders were also willing to pay Grujic’s transfer fee upfront instead of via instalments, along with the agreement of a 10% sell-on clause.
Liverpool’s move came amid bids from Anderlecht (€2m) and Stuttgart (€5m) as well as concrete interest from Inter, who were long understood to be the frontrunners to secure Grujic’s signature, but haggled over his price tag and payment terms.
Liverpool are not expected to do much other business during the January window, although Klopp revealed the club “would react” if they needed to.
The club are keen to strike a pre-contract agreement with defender Joel Matip, who is stalling on new terms at Schalke. Ben Chilwell, Leicester’s highly rated young left-back, is another genuine target but a deal for him would only be likely in the summer.
There have been links to Lorient’s Raphael Guerreiro, but while Liverpool did monitor the Portugal international, they will not be pursuing him.
Given the club’s injury concerns coupled with their vulnerability at the back and lack of options in attack, Klopp could sanction more business this month if the right player is available for the right price.
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