Marko Grujic says Jurgen Klopp wanted him to join the Liverpool squad straight away – but the midfielder was desperate to stay on loan at Red Star Belgrade.
Grujic became Klopp’s first signing at Liverpool last week when he completed a £5.1million transfer from Red Star, but the 19-year-old requested to stay in Serbia for the remainder of the season.
Red Star’s city rivals, Partizan Belgrade, are the reigning champions and have won the league in seven of the last eight seasons, with Red Star only breaking their dominance once in 2014.
However, they are 25 points clear of FK Cukaricki at the halfway stage of the current season, with Partizan a further point back.
Grujic told the Liverpool Echo: “One of the first questions I got was why wouldn’t I come to LFC straightaway, because they have a lot of problems with injuries?
“Klopp himself told me that he needed me right then and there, but I just couldn’t give up on my dream of winning a title with Red Star.
“This has been my dream ever since I started playing football. Now that I’m so close to fulfilling that dream I wasn’t going to give that up lightly.
“We have a great advantage over the rivals and I’d really like to finish what I have started. We want to continue this winning streak and write history with Red Star.
“Klopp himself said that Red Star is the greatest club in Serbia, he also knows that it’s the most successful.
“The greatness of Red Star is also known throughout Europe.
“Their desire was for me to join LFC in January, but they understood what it’s like to win a title with your mother club.
“After winning the trophy with Red Star, I will be very satisfied and self confident when joining LFC for the pre season.”
Grujic always wanted Liverpool move
While Red Star were willing to sell Grujic to ease their financial problems, there had been speculation that the player himself – and his father – was less keen on the idea.
Grujic, however, says his mind was “completely set” on a move to Anfield from the moment he heard of their interest.
“As we all know, Red Star is in a bad financial situation,” Grujic said.
“The players didn’t receive any salaries since the summer. We only got some bonuses. But I know how difficult it is for youth coaches, the chef, and other people working for the club who haven’t received one salary for a while now. This financial injection is not a small deal and it will help the club function better.
“But I wouldn’t have accepted to go anywhere.
“When Klopp called me I was really thrilled and I told myself that I had to sign then because he might not call me again. This was the first and the best opportunity for me. My mind was completely set on joining only Liverpool.
“Then the entire story got dragged around the media and it turned into a soap opera. Luckily with a happy ending.”