NOVI SAD, SERBIA - Tuesday, September 11, 2012: Wales' Gareth Bale in action against Serbia's Lazar Markovic during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Qualifying Group A match at the Karadorde Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Lazar Markovic a Perfect Fit for Liverpool

With widespread reports claiming that Lazar Markovic is set to join Liverpool from Benfica for £25m, Ben Twelves assesses what the 20-year-old can bring to Anfield.

NOVI SAD, SERBIA - Tuesday, September 11, 2012: Wales' Gareth Bale in action against Serbia's Lazar Markovic during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Qualifying Group A match at the Karadorde Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool, according to respected reports, are close to completing the signing of Markovic, as Brendan Rodgers shapes his attacking line ahead of the imminent departure of Luis Suarez. With Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana already signed, Markovic looks set to be another part of the new look Reds’ attack alongside Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling.


Football Background

Markovic started his career with Serbian side Partizan Belgrade where he played for two years, scoring 13 goals in 46 appearances. This impressive form despite still being a teenager prompted Portuguese giants Benfica to sign him a year ago on a 5-year deal last summer for a fee reported to be around £9 million.

He scored on his debut for his new club, coming off the bench to notch an equalising goal in the second minute of injury time and he carried on his excellent start to his Benfica career with some fine early form, including an excellent goal in the Lisbon derby against city rivals Sporting.

He finished the league season with 5 goals in 26 appearances, a feat that helped Benfica enjoy domestic success as they were crowned champions of Portugal. In all competitions, Markovic ended the campaign with 7 goals in 44 appearances for the treble winners, who also reached their second consecutive Europa League final but finished as runners-up also for second year in a row.

The Serbian however, was suspended for the final against Sevilla having been sent off for an altercation on the touchline with Juventus’ Mirko Vucinic in the semi-final second leg after being substituted.

He made his debut for the Serbia national team in February 2012 aged just 17 and the 20-year-old has 2 goals in 12 caps to his name to date.


Style of Play

Markovic is labelled as being a ‘winger’, although he is perhaps better described as a ‘wide forward’. He operates comfortably from either flank but predominantly plays on the right for the Portuguese champions, where he frequently drifts inside to join in more central areas to dictate play.

He can also operate centrally in the number 10 role and his flexibility to play anywhere across the forward line is something that would suit Brendan Rodgers’ fluid attacking system.

The exciting wide-man, who has reportedly also attracted the interests of Chelsea, is known for his outstanding dribbling ability which, aided by his incredible acceleration and pace – key characteristics for a quick attacking team – sees him glide effortlessly past opposition players.

He likes to drift into central positions from out wide, where he can receive the ball in pockets of space and is able to turn and run at the opposing defence using his electric pace and close ball control which makes him so hard to defend against in 1v1 situations.

Rodgers’ teams as we know while easy on the eye also play with a high intensity and desire to win the ball back as quickly as possible, and Markovic, for all his wonderful talent in possession, is also recognised for his industrious work off the ball, pressing to win the ball back and assisting his full-back in deeper areas of the pitch, something that is often seen of our very own talented and tenacious Raheem Sterling.


How Markovic would fit in at Liverpool

The youngster would offer Rodgers a flexible and versatile option for his attacking positions in the team with his ability to play anywhere in a front three – part of the Northern Irishman’s preferred 4-3-3 formation. Markovic’s ability to play centrally too means he is also capable of playing in behind the strikers, or striker, and therefore able to play at the top of a diamond shaped midfield – a formation Liverpool used to excellent effect in the latter half of last season.

Technical ability in possession of the ball has become a fundamental requirement for players under Rodgers, and Markovic with his skill and composure when on the ball combined with his pace and athleticism as well as his tenacity out of possession makes him a perfect fit for this current Liverpool team.

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