Liverpool Transfer News: Lazar Markovic Must Pick Reds over Chelsea

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2014

Benfica's Lazar Markovic, from Serbia, reacts as he celebrates after scoring his side's second goal against Pacos Ferreira in a Portuguese League soccer match at Mata Real stadium in Pacos de Ferreira, northern Portugal, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Paulo Duarte)
Paulo Duarte

Chelsea have been looking at Benfica's Lazar Markovic for a while now, but if recent reports are to be believed, Liverpool are set to battle the Blues for the youngster's signature.

Markovic would be wise to pick the Reds over Jose Mourinho's side.

As reported by The Mirror's Alan Nixon, Liverpool are interested in the Serbian winger, who has been connected with Chelsea for almost a year now. The Daily Mail's Jack Gaughan has gone as far as to claim the Blues have even secured a first option to buy the player from his current club, Benfica.

Gaughan wrote:

Comfortable in possession and a quick thinker, the Serbian is one the Blues have kept tabs on for some time and will continue to do so. 

They were interested in landing Markovic last summer before the midfielder moved to Portugal. The strong relationship with Benfica, and a desire to be kept in the loop, saw Chelsea strike a deal with the buying club that secured a first option. [...]

Markovic is reported to have a huge release in his five-year contract at the Stadium of Light, but Chelsea can snap him up for as little as £12.5million. 

But The Mirror's Nixon claims Brendan Rodgers has his eyes set on the Serbian youngster and is willing to battle Chelsea in order to bring the winger to Anfield, believing him to be a perfect fit for the Liverpool squad he envisions.

And it's hard to disagree.

Markovic has all the necessary tools one would expect from a winger in the modern game, with a nice bag of trickery and pace to spare.

The Serb has excellent touch on the ball and is already an accomplished passer despite only being 20 years old, as evidenced by his 80 percent completion rate in the Champions League and Europa League, per

Even more impressive, Markovic shows an incredible willingness to perform his defensive duties and seems to enjoy doing the dirty work out on the wing as much as making the flash plays near the box.

In that regard, he is reminiscent of Liverpool ace Luis Suarez, one of the world's best at combining attacking prowess with defensive contributions.

Any team would love to add the youngster to their squad, and Markovic will have his pick of teams once he decides to take the next step in his career. But if it comes down to Chelsea and Liverpool, the Reds would present the only logical decision for the Serb.

The main gripe people have with Markovic is that he's not a full-time starter at Benfica, regularly contributing from the bench when the team plays in Europe. Given his age, it shouldn't be that surprising, but he should be turning into a full-time contributor in the next few years if he wants to continue progressing at the same rate.

Nikolas Giakoumidis

Finding regular first-team football as a midfielder or winger is a lot easier with Liverpool than it is with Chelsea, and that's not a slight to the Reds' wingers—Chelsea have stockpiled players at the position like the cast from Grease stockpiled hair gel.

Believing in yourself and believing you can beat out all those other players is one thing, but Kevin De Bruyne was also convinced he had what it took to start over the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian and Andre Schurrle.

Markovic looks to be a superstar in the making, but he wouldn't be making that team better in the next few years. On the contrary, he'd be lucky to even crack the starting lineup half the time.

Liverpool have talent at the position as well, but like Markovic, the bulk of those players are young and relatively unproven. Fabio Borini, Raheem Sterling, Iago Aspas and Philippe Coutinho all have the potential to be great but none of them would be guaranteed to start over the Serb based on past contributions.

The Daily Mail's Jonny Singer scouted the player last month and compared Markovic to Chelsea's Hazard:

Markovic can play up front, and he has a decent goalscoring record, but predominately he's a wide player, though he can also play in the hole. More Eden Hazard than Luis Suarez, which might explain Liverpool's interest. [...]

He doesn't quite have the trickery of an Eden Hazard, but he's certainly that kind of player. But he isn't at that level yet, and still has a lot of work to do before he's ready to be a Premier League star.

If Markovic is so similar to Hazard, chances are Chelsea will be unwilling to field the two at the same time. Rather than being an understudy and potential heir-apparent to the Belgian star, the Serb would be better off fulfilling that same role for one of the Blues' biggest title rivals.

Playing with arguably the best attacking duo in the Premier League in Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, Markovic could thrive as a creative player and distributor and quickly make a name for himself as a top-class player, a chance he most likely wouldn't immediately receive with Chelsea.

Both are amazing clubs with a lot of history and bright futures, but if Markovic is smart, he'll pick the Reds.