If any obsessive-compulsive organisers out there with a penchant for invention were to take it upon themselves to create a compendium of popular phrases and expressions, their definition for ‘out of sight, out of mind’ need only read ‘Marko Grujic’.
The teenager schemer Liverpool signed from Red Star Belgrade in January was sent back to the Serbian capital on loan for the remainder of the season before linking up with Jurgen Klopp and co for the 2016/17 campaign.
Bought to inject creativity into Liverpool’s sometimes-stale central-midfield, it’s hoped that Grujic will grow into a big player for the Reds, but with geography and contractual obligations stopping him showcase his skills for the British public every Saturday, everyone seems to have forgotten about the Serb string-puller.
Tabloid rumourologists are guiltier of this absent-mindedness than anyone, with this morning’s paper linking Liverpool with no fewer than three midfielders with similar attributes.
Mario Gotze of Bayern Munich, Borussia Monchengladbach’s Mahmoud Dahoud and Piotr Zielinski, on loan at Empoli from Udinese, are all alleged targets, with the latter going so far as to say he has held talks about a move to Merseyside.
That’s three more players in addition to Grujic increasing competition in a midfield where James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Lucas Leiva, Emre Can, Joe Allen and Jordon Ibe squabble over what few spots are up for grabs. This is of course, not mentioning highly-rated youngsters Sheyi Ojo and Jordan Rossiter.
Assuming Klopp’s recruitment drive won’t stop at the lesser-spotted Serb he has already signed, he must be planning on letting a few on the current roster leave as it’s clear Anfield ain’t big enough for the eight of ‘em.
But which of the charges is he best off relinquishing?
Henderson may be club captain, but the jury’s still out on whether he is elite enough a player to lead a club like Liverpool in achieving their aspirations.
His middling positions in the Reds’ squad’s stats tables are testament to his mediocrity in a team only good enough to sit eighth in the Premier League.
Three league goals and six assists isn’t good enough a contribution from Lallana, despite the notable improvement in his performances of late. If Gotze and Zielinski are genuinely under consideration, the former Southampton star must be in the gravest danger.
As England internationals in their prime, both Henderson and Lallana would fetch huge transfer fees, as would a potential future Three Lions ace whose best years are ahead of him.
Having seen his promising start to senior soccer life fizzle out somewhat, Ibe’s departure won’t spark as much ire on the terraces as Raheem Sterling’s did.
Three goals and one assist in 35 all comps appearances is the return of a stagnating starlet, not a superstar in the making.