When Liverpool bought Lazar Markovic from Benfica for £20m, there was plenty of reason for optimism. The Serbian had shown flashes of devastating potential and much was expected from him.
He had won four leagues titles at the age of 20, three of them with Partizan Belgrade and one with Benfica. He also had a Europa League runners-up medal to his name. What was most impressive was that at 20, Markovic had already made 114 first-team appearances, scoring 21 goals and making 21 assists. This sort of experience, even in a “lesser league” is incredible for a young player as he has the confidence of making a mark. Liverpool too, believed that the Serbian could make his mark as they decided to shell out £20m for him.
Two years from signing though, Markovic’s career at Liverpool looks very bleak. There certainly aren’t supporters placing his name in their Daily Fantasy Sports teams.
Against Arsenal and Burnley, every player was accounted for – either they were in the squad, or out due to injury, or not picked because they were certainly being sold, or regaining match fitness. And yet, nothing was known about Lazar Markovic. He is the only player whose future remains up for debate.
The winger showed some promise during the pre-season and many thought he might have a part to play this season. Though while he did look promising in flashes, he hardly seized his chance – particularly when given cameos against the more established European giants.
One of Liverpool’s big weaknesses last season was a severe lack of pace in the side. Bar Alberto Moreno, the Reds didn’t have very quick players. Lazar Markovic was out on loan at Turkish side Fenerbahce. With the signing of Sadio Mané, this problem was rectified a little. The Senegalese started his Liverpool career brightly and scored on debut against Arsenal. It was a big blow when he got injured during training and was consequently out for the Burnley game but it seemed like an opportunity for Markovic to maybe get some minutes. If he did, it would show that the manager has him in his plans for the future.
If Markovic can’t get into the squad with the existing injuries, there is little doubt he has much future at Anfield. That seemed to be the case at Turf Moor. With Mané and Ojo out due to injuries, Markovic was the club’s only proper winger. However, he didn’t feature as Klopp chose to use other options. Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge were seen swapping between the central and flank role. Later, Divock Origi was introduced and was also seen drifting jn from wide angles. Markovic was not even mentioned at any time by journalists or the manager in post or pre match comments. The Serbian international seems to be forgotten.
A lot of clubs have been rumoured to be looking to sign him, chief among them are AC Milan, Roma and Lazio. Perhaps the Italian league would be better suited to his style. It is not very physical and his skills and techniques might be seen more in a generally slower league.
He is only 22 so of course Liverpool might live to regret this decision later. There is plenty of time for him to realise his potential but it can only happen at a place where he gets regular game-time. He cannot be sitting on the bench or not even featuring in match day squads and then be expected to show the skills for which Liverpool paid 20m.
The transfer window will shut in just over a week and it remains to be seen what the Serbian’s future holds. If he does end up staying at Liverpool, he must take the chances he gets, for they will be few. If he is sold to one of the prospective suitors, it might be best for all parties and for Liverpool to admit that this transfer didn’t pay off.