By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Liverpool have announced the signing of Marko Grujic from Red Star Belgrade as they step up plans to recruit more players in the January window.
The Merseysiders have finalised a deal for central midfielder Grujic to move permanently to Anfield in a £5million deal, be loaned back to Red Star for the rest of the season and then move permanently to Merseyside in the summer.
But the Serbia Under-21 international is unlikely to be Jurgen Klopp’s only signing in January as the team is gripped by an injury crisis.
The Merseysiders’ casualty list lengthened to 12 players after Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren suffered what Klopp termed “bad” hamstring injuries in the 1-0 League Cup win over Stoke on Tuesday night, while recalled Kolo Toure pulled up with cramp late on.
With Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho also sidelined, the Liverpool manager admitted he may dip into the January transfer market to solve the club’s defensive problems.
“In this situation with no centre-backs fit I would say [transfers] is something we could look at,” Klopp said on Tuesday night.
One target is Schalke defender Joel Matip, who is out of contract at the end of the season, but Liverpool are only at the early stages of their pursuit.
The Merseysiders are delighted to have secured Grujic, iwho s regarded as one of the most promising young talents in European football and has been targeted by a number of elite clubs including Chelsea, Manchester United and Inter Milan.
“We’re very pleased because Marko is a big talent and we’ve seen him a lot of times,” Klopp told the club’s official website.
“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 okay.”
Grujic, 19, added: “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.”
Cash-strapped Serbian Super League leaders Red Star admitted their financial position dictated they cash in on the 6ft 3in midfielder, who has scored a creditable five goals in 21 league matches this season.