Marko Grujic has backed incoming Bayern Munich signing Philippe Coutinho to light up the Bundesliga as the Brazilian closes in on a loan move.
The Bavarian giants confirmed a deal was struck with Barcelona for a season-long loan with the option to buy following their 2-2 draw with Hertha Berlin on Friday.
Grujic, on loan from Liverpool, was central to the game’s narrative, scoring one and conceding a penalty for Bayern’s equaliser.
And post-match he spoke to Bild about what German football can expect from his former team-mate at Anfield.
“It’s a big thing for the whole Bundesliga to have the possibility to see Coutinho play now,” the Serbian said.
“He is a special and exciting player, he does crazy things. He got incredible tricks and skills in his locker. I enjoyed every training session with him in Liverpool. He will be by far the best footballer in Germany.”
Coutinho was in Munich on Sunday to undergo a medical and conclude all other formalities. The 27-year-old will become Bayern’s sixth signing of the summer after Benjamin Pavard, Lucas Hernandez, Jann-Fiete Arp, Ivan Perisic and Mickael Cuisance all joined to front up a major squad overhaul.
However, their season began in an inauspicious fashion as Robert Lewandowski’s double was only enough for a point against Hertha.
And the Polish striker also offered his thoughts on Coutinho post-match.
“I don’t think he’ll need that much time to adapt to our system and ideas,” Lewandowski said. “”I think he’s the sort of player that can settle in without many problems.”
Niko Kovac has set his Bayern Munich side the task of defending their Bundesliga title as they head into their opening match of the season at home to Hertha Berlin on Friday.
The Bavarians secured a seventh consecutive league trophy in May and the coach insists the goal for the upcoming campaign is to extend that run.
Hertha finished in 11th last season, 35 points behind the champions and having lost nine more matches. Yet despite Bayern’s recent domestic dominance, Kovac does not expect the game to be easy.
“It’s like every year, no-one really knows where he stands,” the 47-year-old said in a press conference reported by the club website.
“(You should not) overvalue the results of the preparatory games. A lot of work is waiting for us on Friday.
“But we play at home, we have the first game of the Bundesliga season and, of course, want to end this with a win. We want to win the title.”
The Croatian boss will be without new signing Ivan Perisic after the winger was ruled out through a yellow card suspension carried over from his time with Serie A club Inter Milan.
Also sidelined for the Bavarians is Spain’s Javi Martinez, who has yet to train with the team after picking up a knock.
In the previous meeting between the two sides Hertha managed a narrow 1-0 victory over Bayern, but in the four meetings before that the Bavarians were unbeaten.
Hertha general manager Michael Preetz believes his side will need to produce something special to beat last year’s champions.
“I don’t even know if there is a team that has caused Bayern difficulties in recent years. We are possibly one of them,” he said.
“We know that we need an exceptional performance.”
Hertha’s new coach Ante Covic was just as cautious, adding: “If you play away against the German champions, you have the heaviest opponent before the start on the first match day.
“Still, the anticipation is great when you open the season and we all start from scratch.”
Bayern Munich signed Ivan Perisic on a season-long loan from Inter Milan on Tuesday.
After four years with Inter, the Croatia winger is returning to the Bundesliga to join the reigning champions on an initial loan deal.
The 30-year-old, who played for Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg before joining Inter Milan in 2015, can become a permanent Bayern player next summer.
Perisic won the domestic double with Dortmund in 2012, before winning the German Cup with Wolfsburg three years later. He has also won 82 caps for Croatia.
See the wide man in action in the video above: