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Why Aston Villa missed a trick by allowing the Serbian midfielder to join Cardiff City

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Marko Grujic

Why Aston Villa have to do whatever it takes to sign Liverpool’s Marko Grujic

As the January transfer window began to reach its deafening crescendo, the talk at the top of the Championship was where highly rated young midfielder Marko Grujic would end up. With Klopp insisting that the Serbian youth international was a part of his long-term plans, he was eager to let the 21-year-old get some minutes under his belt. This put the likes of Cardiff and Middlesbrough on high alert but Steve Bruce and Aston Villa were hopeful of beating their promotion rivals to his signature.

Since Aston Villa dropped out of the Premier League in 2016 their team, on paper, has looked ready to make its way back there, and with a canny operator like Steve Bruce at the helm, they have every chance this season. However, at certain points this season Villa have been disappointing, losing against teams like Brentford, Derby and Sheffield Wednesday. A player like Marko Grujic could have given them the consistency they need in order to secure an automatic promotion place.

Marko Grujic is a tall, rangy and athletic player who has been nicknamed ‘the new Matic’, and like his fellow Serbian, Grujic is a relaxed and confident passer of the ball, capable of screening a defence and set up attacking plays. The current player in that position for Aston Villa is 34-year-old Glenn Whelan, who only lasted 45 minutes in their 1-0 victory over Forest before being replaced by Birkir Bjarnason.

Marko Grujic

Having a player like Grujic who can start attacks as well as break them up would have seen Villa’s attacking talent players such as Adomah, Grealish and Snodgrass receiving more service and freedom to express themselves.

Steve Bruce knows the importance of pipping his rivals to potential signings and with Wolves being 10 points clear (at the time of writing) at the top of the Championship and their direct rivals Cardiff chasing Grujic, it was important that Villa acted to stop Cardiff from getting an advantage.

Aston Villa are on a three-match unbeaten run in the league, and if they maintain their momentum they would be confident of overtaking Cardiff and Derby above them. Nevertheless, a player like Grujic would have added another string to Bruce’s bow at a vital time in the season.

Bruce probably missed a trick in not signing Liverpool’s Serbian ahead of Cardiff City.