Lazar Markovic to line-up for Liverpool next season
Liverpool, 10/1 to win the Premier League this season, have bounced back from striker Luis Suarez’s departure by snapping up Serbian star Lazar Markovic for £20m, who was also reportedly coveted by Chelsea.
After sanctioning such a significant outlay on a youngster from the Portuguese League, Coral writers discuss whether the former Benfica man will join a succession of disappointing widemen for the Premier League giants in recent times.
Markovi, 20, is Brendan Rodgers’ fourth summer signing, and will link up with fellow new Reds recruits Emre Can, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert, in what looks to be a significant squad rebuild at Anfield, with further acquisitions expected.
So far, Rodgers has acquired a mixture of solid, if unspectacular, experienced players in ex-Southampton duo Lallana and Lambert, and unproven potential in Can, and now Markovic. Whilst these additions seem smart, they do lack the sprinkling of stardust that was present in Suarez, with Liverpool needing a player who can immediately take over his mantle, and inspire the Reds to greater heights.
Rodgers reportedly suffered disappointment over Alexis Sanchez, who decided to opt for Arsenal, fails to lure that all-important, morale-boosting, marquee signing, much expectation will be placed upon young Markovic’s shoulders.
A youth product from the famed Partizan Belgrade academy, the former Benfica winger will compete with the Reds’ own youth starlet Raheem Sterling for a wide spot.
The England whizz’s form last season helped ease what has been a problem area for Liverpool, following on from underwhelming wingers such as Stewart Downing. The wideman, now at West Ham United, became a source of mirth for failing to provide a single league goal or assist in his first season at the club.
Current lacklustre wide forward Iago Aspas is already set for an Anfield exit, securing a loan to Sevilla after having only made 14 league appearances for the Reds. The Spaniard heads a long line of Liverpool midfield misfits, including Albert Riera and Joe Cole, who never fully realised their talents at the club.
What sets Markovic apart from his predecessors, however, is the amount of success he has enjoyed at such a young age. He won a domestic treble with Benfica last term, which allowed him to continue a promising Zlatan Ibrahimovic-esque winning streak, as he added another hat-trick of medals to his two successive league crowns with Partizan.
Liverpool will be hoping Markovic can continue his winning ways at Anfield, after being named in UEFA’s Europa League Team of the Year, despite missing the final due to suspension for a red card received in the semis.
Markovic was sent for an early bath thanks to an injury time scuffle on the sidelines with Mirko Vucinic, then of Juventus. Whilst the incident highlighted his immaturity and rashness, it also illustrated fighting spirit and passion that Liverpool fans will value up front in the absence of Suarez.
Despite favouring the left wing, pacy Markovic can also play in a number 10 role, meaning he will provide plenty of versatility alongside Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho, Sterling, and Sturridge. He will also benefit from Rodgers’ wisdom and experience with youth players, an aspect of his management for which the Northern Irishman was commended last season.
In a boost to the Reds’ hopes, the talent of new signing Markovic has also been recognised and rewarded at international level. The exciting attacker enjoyed his debut for Serbia in 2012, shortly before his 18th birthday and has continued to feature.
Currently evens to secure a top four finish this campaign, Liverpool have surely gambled on the sensational young star, but with such pedigree and significant experience under his belt already, this signing seems like one which will pay off.