Brendan Rodgers has assembled a squad of exciting, attack-minded players at Liverpool, a selection Lazar Markovic would strengthen if he can be coaxed from Benfica.
"Liverpool are stepping up their interest in Lazar Markovic with scouts set to watch the Benfica man in action again against AZ Alkmaar," reads the report. Although Ben Glendenning of The Guardian suggests Chelsea have "first dibs" on the talented Serb, Rodgers should take an authoritative approach when aiming to land Markovic.
Back in January, Chelsea outmuscled Liverpool in a bid to sign Mohamed Salah, as reported by BBC Sport. Rodgers was unable to land alternative option Yevhen Konoplyanka, leaving Liverpool po-faced and slightly short of numbers heading into the title race, per Richard Jolly of ESPNFC.com.
It's easy to see where Markovic would fit in. A versatile talent, the former Partizan Belgrade starlet is capable of playing at left-back, but his growth as an attacking presence is key.
You need a certain type of ambition to play for Rodgers. Forwards such as Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling flaunt a self-assurance in their ability and a sense that they will always create chances no matter the opposition.
Markovic also boasts this natural trait and a direct approach to skipping beyond his mark, attributes that have been evident throughout Benfica's Liga Sagres and European campaigns.
He has six goals across the Portuguese division, Champions League and Europa League this year, per WhoScored.com. Markovic has featured in attacking roles from both wings and further back in midfield, providing his team with a lightening-quick outlet in which to launch counter-attacks.
Blessed with both attacking and defensive qualities, he offers a fantastic alternative to Sterling and Philippe Coutinho. If Rodgers wishes to maintain an offensive outlook while tightening things up at the back, Markovic is his man. Despite the dribbling skills of Sterling and the vision of Coutinho, neither is an instinctive defender.
We saw Sterling pushed centrally during the 3-0 win over Manchester United, a tactical move that paid dividends for Liverpool. Markovic is also capable of fulfilling multiple duties with his swashbuckling energy and willingness to cover ground. The club lack a plethora of out-and-out wingers aside from Sterling, meaning Markovic could slot in when Rodgers decides to deploy the Englishman centrally.
Dominic Vieira, co-founder of A Football Report, highlights the free role in which Markovic can operate:
His adaptability, confidence and willingness to improve are sure to attract Rodgers. The Liverpool boss has a track record of signing potential and improving their game—highlighted by Sturridge and Coutinho—and he isn't afraid to give youth a major role in his developing side.
Markovic's talents are likely to receive greater attention across the next year. If Rodgers acts quickly, and with the assertion that he will beat Chelsea to Markovic's signature, Liverpool will add yet another dangerous ingredient to an already lethal squad.