Liverpool are closing in on a £19.8m signing of Serbian winger Lazar Markovic from Benfica where he enjoyed a fruitful season. Markovic, at age 20, has a bright future ahead of him and comes with potential as Liverpool need to compensate for the absence of Luis Suarez, with a big transfer budget, Markovic happens to be the direct replacement on paper for the positional replacement for the Uruguayan. But is he currently good enough to replace arguably the best centre forward of last season?
Pace: Markovic is known to have great acceleration to get away from defenders and has good pace with and without the ball. His superior close control enables him to have the ability to dribble and get past defenders with relative ease. He is faster than Luis Suarez, who could accelerate but not sprint at extra-ordinary pace.
Stamina and Work Rate: He is known to work very hard without the ball as well, something which Suarez did a lot. He is young and hungry, and would ideally be a fit in any English team because of his willingness to do the functional bit of the beautiful game. For a youngster, he has good stamina as he was involved in 49 matches last season.
Technically gifted and versatile: Markovic is gifted with flair and technique, and is expected to develop into one of the finest footballers in the next few years. Markovic has the ability to play anywhere in the attacking midfield, thus giving manager Brendan Rodgers the freedom to change his tactics as and when required. Rodgers does like to experiment with his formations and game-plan, and having a versatile technical player is very useful for the team.
Key Areas to Improve
Finishing: If he is the one filling in Suarez’s shoes, then he must definitely score more than just 7 goals in 49 appearances that he managed last season. He was only 19 last year, and his finishing technique and vision is bound to improve. He must add goals to his game and look to achieve a double digit figure for his goal tally.
Decisiveness and Vision: This is something which would improve with age. He needs to get the stats backing him up. His performances in an arguably weaker league than EPL, has been inferior to that of Raheem Sterling. The young Englishman has been more decisive and clinical with 9 goals and 5 assists. Markovic would benefit with Rodgers being his coach, who would provide the impetus for achieving end products to his performances on the pitch.
Lazar Markovic has a lot of potential without doubt, which Brendan Rodgers has also noticed. Apparently, the eye catching point of the transfer is the fee involved which is 19.8 million pounds. Going by his current performances, Liverpool are definitely over-paying to buy him, more because of desperation to capture his signature before other clubs. Markovic can prove to be value for money, but not in the coming season, where he’ll surely need time to adapt and get to know the team. So Liverpool, despite having signed him to play in place of Suarez, will have to depend heavily on Sturridge, Coutinho, Gerrard and Sterling for the goals as the young Serbian develops his game.