Chelsea are never shy with their spending, and their latest rumoured transfer target for this coming January is Serbian teenage superstar Lazar Markovic.
Plenty of Blues fans might not be avid watchers of the Serbian top flight, so enjoy the video and read on for everything you need to know about the £8 million rated attacker.
For starters, the deal is far from cut-and-dry.
While the Daily Mail claims that Chelsea are on the brink of of sealing the contract and bringing Markovic to Stamford Bridge, the Independent quote his team, Partizan Belgrade, denying any information of the impending transfer whatsoever. Sporting director Ljubisa Tumbakovic told the media:
I swear on my mother that I really do not know anything about this. On Saturday, I spoke with club president Dragan Djuric and he also told me that he knows nothing about Markovic's transfer to Chelsea.
So he might not be a Chelsea player come January 1, but with the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Inter Milan all credited with a firm interest as well, it is safe to say that his transfer one way or another is certainly looming.
The 18-year-old is a versatile attacker, playing mainly from the left side to cut in on his far stronger right foot, but also having the capability of playing centrally if needed—perhaps as a second striker rather than main centre-forward.
The right flank is the final option for Markovic, where his good movement still allows him to get involved centrally, but he is more frequently played from the opposite side.
His talent in attack has been rewarded with six international caps so far for his nation, while he scored his first goal at that level against Chile in November. At club level, Markovic's importance cannot be understated, where he has started 12 times this season. Understandably given his age, Markovic is frequently substituted in the latter stages of matches.
Despite his young age, Markovic has already amassed 60 appearances for Partizan, netting 13 goals in that time.
Markovic has terrific close control and an ability to accelerate past defenders, as well as being confident enough in possession to pick a clever pass. His mix of skills in the final third mean he is a constant danger on the ball, giving defenders problems when he approaches the penalty area.
His movement is also extremely good; Markovic is aware enough to know when to make a run beyond the shoulder of the defender and when to hold his position deeper in space.
Of course, a step up to the Premier League or Serie A would present Markovic with a step up in terms of opposition defenders, so his movement is arguably more important at this stage than his dribbling ability.
As well as six league goals this season, Markovic has claimed six assists for Partizan. He has also had a respectable impact in the Europa League, laying on two goals for his team mates in eight games. Partizan's run in Europe is over for this season after they failed to win any of their group stage games and finished third behind Inter Milan and Rubin Kazan.
Given the reported interest in the youngster it is unlikely that he will remain at Partizan too much longer. It could be January when he moves on, or he may wait on until the summer with his side top of the table and in with a great chance of retaining their title.
Markovic's contract runs until 2016, so he will not be prised away on the cheap, with the Daily Mail article above claiming he could fetch a fee which eventually reaches £14 million.
Chelsea could certainly afford him, but would he be interested in a move to London? Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata have all performed admirably this season in the three attacking roles behind Fernando Torres, while Victor Moses and Marko Marin have had to bide their time for a chance.
Adding another attacker to the list of possibilities for Rafael Benitez would be attractive for Chelsea, especially in the long run, but the player himself could be best served with continuing to play first team football as regularly as possible.
Whether that is at Partizan Belgrade, or at another team in a different league remains to be seen.
Data and statistics provided in part from TransferMarkt.co.uk and WSN.com
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