Marko Grujic has explained why the prospect of playing for Jürgen Klopp in front of the Kop was an opportunity he simply could not resist after he completed his transfer to Liverpool on Wednesday afternoon.
The 19-year-old put pen to paper on a contract with the Reds at Melwood, where he’ll return in time for next season having immediately returned to Red Star Belgrade on loan for the remainder for 2015-16.
Moments after inking his Anfield deal, Grujic sat down with Liverpoolfc.com at the club’s training complex to speak of his delight at securing the move, and recalling why a video clip of 100,000 Kopites singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ in Melbourne in 2013 is etched in his memory.
If you’re an LFCTV GO subscriber, you can watch our exclusive interview with the Serbia midfielder in full by clicking play on the embedded video above now. Haven’t signed up yet, click here to do so.
Alternatively, you can read a full transcript of our chat with Klopp’s first signing as Liverpool manager below now…
Firstly, Marko, welcome to Liverpool Football Club. How are you feeling right now?
Thanks. 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.
Has it sunk in yet? Have you quite come to terms with signing for Liverpool?
No, but I am very happy and excited!
For the Liverpool fans who haven’t seen you play before, what kind of player are you?
I play in midfield and can play as a defensive, central or attacking midfielder. I try a lot to shoot during games, like a box-to-box midfielder. I think I can improve my defensive qualities, but I think it’ll be okay.
You say you can play defensive, central and attacking midfield, do you have a preferred position?
I think central midfield is best for me.
You spoke to Jürgen Klopp before you joined Liverpool – what did he say to you?
He said I must be relaxed and I am coming to a big club, one of the biggest in Europe. And when I start pre-season in preparation for next season, I need to concentrate on my job on the pitch and that’s it.
How much of an influence was the manager on your decision to come to Liverpool?
He called me one month [ago] on my phone and spoke to me very well. 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.
You must be excited at the prospect of working with him?
Yes, that’s normal. When I spoke with him directly I was a little nervous, but after two or three minutes it was okay. He made me feel at ease.
What excites you most about this new challenge in your career?
I’ve only played in the Serbian league and it’s not as high a level as the Premier League, but I think after three or four months, with good preparation here, I’ll be able to play here. 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.
You like play under pressure? Does that bring the best out of you?
Yes, and then I give my best.
How much Premier League football have you watched before coming here to Liverpool?
In the last two months, I’ve watched every Liverpool game. When I was linked with Liverpool, I started to watch every game. I also watched them before, but now I watch every game. We’ve been unlucky in some games, but I think in the next period we will take many points and we can finish in one of the top four positions in the league.
You mentioned Anfield earlier. Having watched on TV, will you be excited to actually play in front of the Kop?
Yes. I’ve seen the atmosphere at Anfield – and I’ve also watched a video of when Liverpool played in Melbourne. Our fans made an incredible atmosphere so far away from England. They love the club and that’s most important.
There were 100,000 people in Melbourne that night…
I saw when they sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. That’s why they’re one of the best sets of fans in Europe.
How do you think you’ll feel when you’re out on the pitch at Anfield, wearing a Liverpool shirt and the fans are singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’?
I don’t know how I’ll be feeling – but I can’t wait to do it! To run out at Anfield and hear how they sing.
Speaking of the Premier League and adapting to the challenges here in England, you’re obviously a very tall midfield player. Do you think your size will help you settle in?
Yes, I think I have good height and if I do more fitness training to adapt to this league, I think my body can do everything I need.
We saw you speaking to Dejan Lovren at Melwood. What’s he told you about Liverpool?
He is from Croatia, which is near to my country, so we speak the same language. He says it is a good idea to come here. He told me about the club and the size of it, and that they have one of the best sets of fans in Europe. He said he can’t wait to see me here.
He’ll be important in helping you settle here at Liverpool?
Yes, I think I’ll need that. I think he will stay in the next period and I will meet with him to start preparation for next season.
Which other players are you looking forward to working alongside here next season?
I like all of the midfielders, but I think Coutinho is one of the best players in his position in Europe – or even the world.
We know you’re going back to Red Star on loan until the end of the season. Will that be important in helping you prepare for Liverpool?
Yes, I must now concentrate on finishing my job. When I was a child, I dreamt of winning the championship with my club and now I am so close, I want to finish the season with my Red Star family – and then I can concentrate 100 per cent on my job at Liverpool.
You say it was a childhood dream to win the title at Red Star. If you do that and then move to Liverpool, how do you think you’ll feel?
Very good. Very good. It would be incredible if I won the championship in my country and then came here as a hero in my country, then I think I can do my best when I come here.
And you’ll be watching every Liverpool game between now and then?
Yes, of course I will watch every game.
Lastly, for the Liverpool fans reading this interview, do you have a message for them?
Marko will give 200 per cent in every training session and match. I think we can win trophies next season.