When 21-year-old Serbian international Marko Grujic made the temporary switch to the south coast of Wales in January, many questioned whether spending time on loan at the Championship side would suit the midfielder as he bids to make the first team at Liverpool.
Bluebirds boss Neil Warnock is hardly renowned for playing a similar style of football to Jurgen Klopp, but the Cardiff boss has insisted that Grujic will go back to Liverpool in the summer a better player than when he left.
World Cup ambitions
Warnock said: “He wants to play and wants to go to the World Cup. He’s in the window and has got 17 games to show it.
“In every game he’s stuttered at times and then regained his composure, but I think he’s learning about what we want him to do.
“He can play different roles and we’re trying to teach him those roles. He’s such a great lad and great athlete as well.”
Liverpool inserted a clause that financially penalises Cardiff if Grujic does not feature in a certain number of matches, as they do with every player that goes out on loan to ensure there is an incentive for their player to get game time.
Warnock, though, insists that the penalty will not deter him from leaving out Grujic should he need to, although he has played three times already.
He said: “I won’t play him if he doesn’t deserve to be in the team – I keep reading I’ve got to play him but all it is, is that we have to pay more money if I don’t.
“The club agreed to that, so it’s not my worry.”
Improvement being made
Warnock seemed to suggest that Grujic may have been slightly surprised by the intensity shown in training initially, although he has since settled in well.
He added: “He’s catching up and he’s getting better. It’s difficult for him to be flung straight in, with the second game being [against] Manchester City.
“I think it’s toughened him up being with us. When he first came into training, he left a little bit to be desired, should we say.
“But you soon get into it with us – when you train as hard as we do, you want to be like that.
“I think it’s improved his game. The minimum requirement is effort because when you have ability like he has, it comes through on top. I think he’s realised that early doors and wants to stay in the team.”
Grujic has shown promise in the early stages of his spell in Wales, and Warnock expects him to improve further still in the time between now and the end of the season.
He said: “With the pace of the Championship, he has to get involved quickly because if you have too many touches you’ve lost it and you’re under the cosh. He’s learning and he’ll be better.”
Cardiff currently sit fourth in the Championship as they gun for promotion. They face Millwall next, who are currently 14th, on Friday night.