Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has reportedly told Marko Grujic to work hard defensively instead of making ‘lazy’ challenges.
Despite showing early promise after his £5.1million move to Merseyside, Grujic has found first-team opportunities limited, and struggled with a hamstring injury for most of last season.
The Serbian has shown a penchant for late tackles at times, having injured Crystal Palace centre-back James Tomkins in May. More recently, he lunged at Eagles’ winger Wilfried Zaha in a pre-season game, inciting an outraged response from Palace boss Frank de Boer, who labelled the challenge “not appropriate”.
And judging by Klopp’s comments, the Serbian midfielder will have to work harder, particularly in defensive phases, if he wants to break into the side:
“I didn’t see it [the challenge on Zaha] properly at the time but I heard it could have been a red card,” he told the Liverpool Echo.
“That’s not good. For Marko, it’s something that he has to change.
“He’s a fantastic player, a really skilled boy. Tall, quick, talented footballing wise, all good.
“But in these defensive situations, you always need to be early enough there so you are close enough to make a challenge and not a foul.”
Klopp’s gegenpressing style requires players to work hard both on and off the ball, and it’s something the German demands of the whole squad – not just Grujic:
“I said it to the players after a session when we had a little situation with Divock [Origi] and Trent [Alexander-Arnold].
“It’s about coming too late, switching off the machine, trying to sort a situation in which you were late in mind. I hate that.
“When that happens you need to run, not foul. Make more steps, go, go, go. For me it’s always a bit lazy.”