Midfielder Marko Grujic has no doubts he has the ability to make the step up to the level required from a Liverpool player despite just 12 minutes of action so far.
The 20-year-old agreed a £5.1 million transfer in January but he was loaned back to Red Star Belgrade for the rest of the campaign, helping them win the Serbian SuperLiga title.
He put in some impressive performances in pre-season friendlies, scoring three goals, but his Premier League debut was not exactly how he envisaged after patiently waiting eight months, coming on as a late substitute in the 2-0 defeat at Burnley.
Grujic has been included in all three of Jurgen Klopp‘s Premier League squads so far and the backing of his manager has helped convince the Serbia international he can bridge the gulf in standard between the football he has been used to and the world’s most competitive league.
“He told me I’m a very talented player and I just need to work to improve myself,” he said.
“Pre-season went very well for me, but that’s just pre-season and now I need to adapt fully to the Premier League.
“But I’ve seen that I can work nicely with my team-mates, even against strong teams like Chelsea [in pre-season] for example, and that’s what gives me confidence that I can do big things with Liverpool.
“When I came here from Serbia I knew I would have new steps in my career and that it would be hard.
“It was hard because it was a first pre-season with Liverpool and some training was harder than at my old club in Serbia, but every day I adapted more for this new kind of training and everything is good now.”
Grujic displayed plenty of patience in not rushing into his Liverpool career and was happy to return to his boyhood club on loan to wait for the right time to join his new club.
But that does not mean he coasted through the final four months of last season as he used that period to get himself ready for the rigours of English football.
Having done that he now has to play well enough to displace more established players in the starting line-up and, once again, he is prepared to bide his time.
“I tried to prepare for six months, that is why I wanted to stay at Red Star—of course to win the title but to do some extra training in the gym and running, so when I came here in July I could train with everyone on the same level.
“I have just come back from the national team and some of my friends have said I have many positive things just after two months [at Liverpool] and I know it will be better and better after a few months.
“I know I’m still a young guy and here there are many talented young guys. All of us need to work harder than the older guys to get the chance and when we get the chance to use it.
“I prepare in my head for six months or one year—I don’t know how long—to work hard, to try and get the coach to see I’m ready for battle in the Premier League.
“The most important thing when I get the chance is to use it.”