Liverpool have seen the benefits of sending out players on loan this season with the form and progression of Harvey Elliott, but Marko Grujic is finding life rather more difficult in Portugal.

Grujic, who turns 25 in April, has only made two league starts for his temporary side, FC Porto, and two more in the Champions League, with the majority of his appearances to date under Sergio Conceicao coming off the bench.

Eight of the 15 matches that Grujic has featured in to date for Porto have seen him have 10 or fewer minutes on the field, and opportunities have been difficult to come by.

"Sergio Oliveira's spot in the lineup is secure because he is the heartbeat of this Porto side and arguably the best player in Liga Nos," explained Portuguese football expert Scott Martin and author of Revitalising Real Madrid on a Liverpool Loan Watch podcast from Blood Red.

"So we are really looking at Mateus Uribe's spot as the one that is up for Grujic. But for that to happen, he has to become more comfortable in the Porto set-up.

"They play a 4-4-2 with a flat midfield but the two wide midfielders pinch into the half-spaces and it is a very narrow midfield. The wings are left to the full-backs.

"So all four midfielders plus the two players up top are occupying the central spaces and there is a central overload. Grujic is really having a tough time handling that right now.

"The speed is much, much faster than what we saw at Hertha Berlin and that comes down to the quality of the players he is with, so that is the first thing he needs to adapt to.

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"The other thing is his counter-pressing. For Liverpool, this is a must: if you cannot counter-press, you are not playing. And this is where he has really struggled.

"He rates near the bottom of the league for duels won per 90 minutes and duel efficiency. And then he has the fourth-most fouls per 90 minutes among central midfielders, so he is really struggling to counter-press.

"His body orientation and even identifying the pockets of space before the ball comes to him has just not been there and we have seen some sloppy technical actions from him."

In the last few weeks, Grujic has bemoaned a lack of opportunities at Liverpool, but the chances have not exactly been free-flowing or taken during his time at Porto.

"I believe that [Liverpool] believe in me. In every conversation, whether it's Jurgen Klopp or one of the directors, they always remind me that I am a player of great potential," Grujic said.

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"But when I get into the system I don't get a chance. It confuses me a little."

Liverpool were willing to accept offers of around £18m for the Serbian during the summer transfer window, with the player - who was Klopp's first signing as Reds boss, purchased from Red Star Belgrade for £5.1m - unconvinced that was a fair price-tag.

"They certainly want to make money on me," he added. "The English are quite demanding during the negotiations. They do not lack money and can close the amount they want. So it is with me.

"It was unrealistic that they asked for €20m for me, so the loan was the most realistic."

So far, the move to Porto has not worked out, but that is not to say things cannot change in the remainder of the campaign.

Grujic is expected to get more minutes in the second half of the season than he managed in the first, possibly even when they face Juventus in the last-16 of the Champions League.

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"I don't think Porto was a bad move at all for Grujic from Liverpool's perspective," added Martin.

"If I'm Liverpool, I need to see that Grujic can come into a team that is expected to contend for titles, that he can perform well in the Champions League, and that he is comfortable in a system with high-intensity counter-pressing.

"Porto are giving him that opportunity to show his value to Liverpool [which was not the case at Hertha Berlin]. This is what Liverpool need to see so the loan, from that perspective alone, has been valuable."

Up to now, though, the answer to whether Grujic has what it takes to make it at Liverpool, based on his trial run at Porto, is a resounding 'no'.

It is doubtful whether he ever had a long-term future at Anfield, but the second half of the season will go a long way to determining what type of transfer move - and fee - can be demanded of him in the summer.