Lazar Markovic may be on his way back to Liverpool this month, with Sporting CP assessing whether they should cancel the winger’s loan.
Markovic joined the Portuguese side on a season-long deal at the end of August, but has struggled to make an impact at the Estadio Jose Alvalade.
The Serbian has made just 14 appearances in all competitions, with a combination of injury and poor form restricting him to a meagre six outings in the Primeira Liga, amounting to 205 minutes.
He has averaged just 43.4 minutes per game overall, and was even booed by his own supporters during October’s 2-1 defeat at home to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.
Sporting are currently fourth in the league, eight points behind bitter rivals Benfica, with the club understandably weighing up their next moves midway through the season.
According to Portuguese publication Record, they are looking to send Markovic back to Liverpool as part of a January overhaul.
However, they are unsure as to whether they should do so, due to the terms of their initial agreement with the Reds.
Sporting already paid £1.3 million to take Markovic to Lisbon on loan, but due to the 22-year-old not featuring over an agreed threshold of games so far, they would face a financial penalty.
Like Liverpool’s other loanees, Markovic is likely to have required to play 50 percent of minutes he has been available for this season, but so far he has turned out in just 27 percent.
This could well be due to manager Jorge Jesus not prompting the move for Markovic in the first place, despite their previous relationship at the winger’s second senior club, Benfica.
Sporting’s former vice-president, Pedro Madeira Rodrigues, suggested in a recent interview with O Jogo that current president Bruno de Carvalho had taken the reins in the transfer market, naming Markovic and Luc Castaignos as examples.
Jesus is believed to be looking to trim down his squad at present, and Markovic did not travel with the manager’s 20-man squad to take on Maritimo on Saturday evening.
If Sporting do cancel Markovic’s loan, it would represent another frustrating move for the youngster, whose career has stagnated since making the switch to Liverpool back in 2014.
The Reds signed Markovic for a significant £20 million fee, but he has made 34 appearances for the first team since his arrival, spending 2015/16 on loan with Turkish side Fenerbahce.
Jurgen Klopp included the winger in pre-season friendlies, both domestic and on tour in the United States, but despite some bright moments, he clearly failed to impress.
If he is sent back to Merseyside, it would be interesting to see whether he is drafted in to fill the void left by Sadio Mane‘s departure to the Africa Cup of Nations.
This remains highly unlikely, however, with another loan move more feasible if he heads back this month.