SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Friday, December 16, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (R) with Stefan Bajcetic after the Dubai Super Cup 2022 match between Liverpool FC and AC Milan at the Al Maktoum Stadium. Liverpool won 4-1 but lost the extra-point penalty shoot-out 4-3. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jurgen Klopp’s private verdict on Stefan Bajcetic may show long-term position

Since his breakthrough into Liverpool’s first team there has been debate over Stefan Bajcetic‘s long-term role, but Jurgen Klopp may have already given it away.

Though Bajcetic has barely featured for Liverpool in the past nine months, there remain high hopes for the versatile Spaniard in the future.

Having arrived from Celta Vigo as an aspiring centre-back, he was quickly moved into midfield in the Reds’ academy, which has been where he has largely played for the first team.

Bar a brief foray in the hybrid right-back role before another injury stopped his progress this season, Bajcetic has mostly played as a No. 8 under Klopp.

Liverpool’s Stefan Bajcetic, watched by manager Jurgen Klopp, warms up prior to the Emirates FA Cup third-round replay match at Molineux Picture date: Tuesday January 17, 2023.

But in a passage in Pepijn Lijnders‘ book Intensity: Inside Liverpool FC, Klopp’s assistant manager recalled the manager’s early verdict.

“‘We have this Stefan [Bajcetic]’, Vitor told me,” he wrote of a meeting with Liverpool’s elite development coach Vitor Matos in early 2022.

“‘He is good, Pep. Have a close look. He plays with intelligence and insight in front of our defence during training’.

“He normally played in the back line for the U18s but Jurgen immediately said he could reach the No. 6 for us.

“I was so happy because we’d searched for a while for a talented No. 6. Hopefully he could fill this position one day.”

Bajcetic had been signed on the eve of Brexit, in December 2020, as the club’s final signing before new laws came in preventing arrivals under the age of 18 from overseas.

It took just over a year, then, for him to land of the first-team radar, and his competitive debut eventually came in August 2022.

He now has 21 appearances to his name, and it would seem as though there are plans for him to settle into the No. 6 role moving forward.

If he does, his flexibility could suggest a long-term vision for the deep-lying midfielder to play similar to how Alexis Mac Allister currently operates, rather than a traditional destroyer.

LINZ, AUSTRIA - Thursday, September 21, 2023: Liverpool's Stefan Bajcetic during the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 1 game between LASK and Liverpool FC at the Raiffeisen Arena. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There should be no concern over his current fitness issues, as they can be attributed to the natural growth of his body as a player who only turned 19 in October.

And there should be no concern over his value to Liverpool, as the impression he made on Klopp and Lijnders two years ago has clearly stuck.

“You only get seven seconds to make a first impression on whether people feel positively or negatively about you,” Lijnders continued.

“But as a footballer it’s probably 70 minutes, so it was definitely a case of ‘well done, Stefan!’.”