Who is Stefan Bajcetic? Liverpool teenager taking the Premier League by storm in 2022/23

Liverpool’s inconsistent 2022/23 season fell short for Jurgen Klopp and the Reds face a battle to secure a top-four finish in the Premier League in the remaining weeks of the season.

Early exits from the FA Cup and Carabao Cup ended last season’s defense of both titles with a big Champions League round of 16 clash against Real Madrid on the horizon.

Klopp has expressed frustration with the current picture at Anfield as he looks to weather a storm of poor form and injuries and ensure a strong end to 2022/23.

Despite the negativity at the start of 2023, the rise of teenage star Stefan Bajcetic was a bright spot for Klopp and the 18-year-old seized his chance to impress.

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Career path of Stefan Bajcetic

Bajcetic’s rise to Liverpool’s first-team has been rapid over the past 12 months, having only joined the Premier League giants in December 2020.

The Galicia-born midfielder worked through the youth ranks of youth club Celta Vigo from 2013 to 2020 before the Reds saw his progress in 2019 and decided to switch.

Having continued to rise through the ranks of Liverpool Under-21 side, Bajcetic was accepted into first-team training at the end of the 2021/22 season and included in a number of Premier League matchday squads.

Klopp has checked him by name in pre-season training ahead of the 2022/23 season, with a new deal confirmed in August as part of the club’s long-term plan for the player.

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With Liverpool’s midfield undergoing a rebuilding process this season, Klopp was keen to use Bajcetic as a rotating option alongside Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho, with his debut coming off the bench in August’s 9-0 Premier League smash against Bournemouth.

His goal in the 3-1 Boxing Day 2022 win at Aston Villa opened his account for Liverpool as the club’s third youngest goalscorer in the Premier League before making his debut in the league against Chelsea in January. 21

Klopp’s unwavering faith in the teenager prompted the club to renegotiate his contract last month, with a deal extended until 2027, reflecting his status as a first-team player.

His impressive calm in midfield has secured his place in Klopp’s midfield, with four consecutive starts since Chelsea’s draw, as the sole midfielder.

Statistics by Stefan Bajcetic

Bajcetic was hailed in the Liverpool engine room for his composure and maturity, and Mo Salah praised him during a Man of the Match show in the 2-0 Premier League derby win over Everton in February 2023.

His humble post-match interview drew social media love for the young Spaniard, with an all-action performance against a robust Everton midfield as part of his most complete performance yet.

These numbers show his role in harassing and winning possession for Liverpool that February night at Anfield, when no player attempted more tackles in the derby without overshooting the target and committing damaging fouls.

The famous father of Stefan Bajcetic

Bajcetic’s impressive start in life at Anfield continues the family path of professional footballers in the footsteps of his father Srđan.

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The senior Bajcetic joined Celta Vigo from Serbian club Vojvodina in 1994 and spent three seasons with the club before moving to Braga in Portugal and then returning to Serbia to join Red Star Belgrade.

The former Celta midfielder decided to return to Galicia in 2004 after ending his playing career in China, with Stefan being born that same year.

The father-son bond runs deep, however, as Srđan worked alongside Thiago Alcantara’s father Mazinho in the 1996/97 season in Vigo.

That link was passed down to sons, albeit over a decade apart, as Thiago played for local club FC Ureca during his time in Galicia before moving to Kelme when his father signed for Valencia.

FC Ureca was re-formed as ED Val Minor Nigran as a feeder side for Celta in the early 2010s, with a young Bajcetic joining them as a nine-year-old.

Will Stefan Bajcetic play for Spain?

Bajcetic’s promotion to the Liverpool team this season has raised questions about his international career plans given his ability to represent Spain and Serbia.

La Roja is keen on signing Bajcetic as a future option as part of a conveyor belt of midfield talent including Barcelona duo Pedri and Gavi. Bajcetic made his U18 debut for Spain in 2021.

Despite the possibility of moving to Serbia via his father’s roots, Bajcetic looks set to stay with Spain and could be called up for this summer’s European Under-21 Championships.

However, if his striking progress continues at Anfield, new Spain boss Luis de la Fuente could quickly see him included in the senior squad, as Luis Enrique did with Gavi for the 2022 World Cup.

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