Stefan Bajcetic, the nervous teenager giving Liverpool a welcome boost amid a turbulent campaign, is preparing for two games that will help define his career even at this early stage.
European champions Real Madrid present a formidable but perfect opportunity for the Reds to make a statement in the Champions League. And the bright spark is an unexpected protagonist considering his confident performances, road to the first team and everything else in this feverish last-16 game.
The centre-back has developed into a versatile midfielder who speaks and plays like a keen Liverpudlian and has a varied footballing background, with hints of Serbia, north-west Spain and Premier League football stuck in a rapid rise to the top level, making him a player to watch. both legs.
Assuming Bajcetic plays fit, his outings at Anfield and the Santiago Bernabéu could prove the most important even in the next few seasons and see his value skyrocket in the short term.
Darkness to imminent riches
As Bajcetic mentioned in a recent post-match interview, youth football was his focus until recently. Indeed, rising through the ranks was the Galician-born star’s first aim when Liverpool acquired him at the age of 16 from academy side Celta Vigo from La Liga side at the end of 2020.
He cost Liverpool around €250,000 ($267,000), a reasonable bet for a Premier League giant to place on a player on the periphery of a talent-filled transfer market. A big rise and some levity in Liverpool’s midfield means he is now a mainstay in senior training. Charting his progress is an upgraded contract, earning him around 10.5 million euros ($11 million) throughout what appears to be a four-year contract, Football Insider reports.
Through the form, its value has since multiplied and will continue to do so. Tough but physically light, he doesn’t dominate matches but is a solid presence that reads the game well. If he were in the store window, he would surely command millions rather than thousands due to his high ceiling and his quick to adapt to elite play.
If you compare him to Endrick, the 16-year-old Brazilian who Real’s opponent secured for an incredible 72 million euros ($77 million), there’s – well – no comparison. Bajcetic represents shrewd business for Liverpool, and further progress in Europe will only increase his stock, starting with the Spanish opposition.
Spain’s Forgotten Man – So Far
The frantic Spanish media have covered Liverpool fairly comprehensively in recent seasons, assessing what Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Naby Keïta and Thiago Alcântara bring to the party against Los Blancos. One name he didn’t need to consider is Bajcetic.
Ironically, he’s one of those he should know the most about, given his Celta roots. However, Bajcetic has never played in La Liga and is a lesser-known threat for Real to counter in the central areas. This is a handy map in the Liverpool pack.
He is firmly part of the furniture in England after a low-key football education in Spain. Talk about his formative years and parallels to team-mate Thiago’s father, a former professional, he told Liverpool media: “To be fair, it’s a crazy story because I also played at a very, very small academy at Vigo , the city where I was born.
“We played in the same small academy,” he said, adding: “I think my dad didn’t speak with his dad, but it’s crazy to think how small this town is and to see where we are now.”
Spain are finally building on their abilities, albeit across the board. And now is the perfect time for Bajcetic to impress the international setup, with La Roja being rebuilt under head coach Luis de la Fuente. Spain hopes he chooses his native country (Spanish), with Bajcetic also eligible for Serbia through his father and former player Srdjan.
Reverse the narratives
These are two crucial European matches for Liverpool. There’s a season to save and a mental hurdle to overcome as well. Real are unbeaten in their last six meetings with the Merseysiders, winning five, including two Champions League finals. Replicating his predecessor Zinedine Zidane, boss Carlo Ancelotti appears to have Liverpool’s number, nullifying his threat in the last final in Paris. Liverpool need to approach this latest test with renewed vigour, and Bajcetic can be an energetic asset.
The Liverpool midfielder has looked out of rhythm at times. But with him in the line-up, the scales tip towards something more lively, capable of harassing Real’s playmakers on a good day. Liverpool’s fate this season hinges on options in midfield, and the 18-year-old is starting to address his issues. Experience is not an object.
Bajcetic is the latest Celta graduate to make his mark at Anfield – and in a relatively good way. Another well known to Reds supporters was Iago Aspas, Celta’s top scorer. With few cameos, his passage failed. By all accounts, Bajcetic – the next – is flying and his real business begins soon; the coming stops in what has been a revolutionary campaign.