Liverpool Transfer News: Lazar Markovic Deal More Important Than Xherdan Shaqiri

Dominic RaynorCorrespondent IIJuly 9, 2014

Benfica's Lima,left, celebrates with teammate Lazar Markovic, right, after scoring their side's second goal against Tottenham during the Europa League, round of 16, second leg soccer match between Benfica and Tottenham at Benfica's Luz stadium, in Lisbon, Thursday, March 20, 2014. Benfica won 5-3 on aggregate and advances to the next round. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Francisco Seco/Associated Press

Liverpool show no signs of slowing down their recruitment drive and appear all set to make Benfica winger Lazar Markovic their fourth signing of the summer.

The 20-year-old Serbian will join Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Emre Can at Anfield after he completes a £19.8 million move in the next few days, according to David Anderson of the Daily Mirror.

The deal for Markovic gathered pace after Liverpool suffered a setback in their pursuit of Bayern Munich's Xherdan Shaqiri, who has become a target for Roma. 

Sky Sport Italia claim the Serie A side are willing to pay £15 million for 22-year-old Shaqiri, per Chisanga Malata of the Daily Star, and have already made contact with the Switzerland international.

Markovic is now at the front of the queue as Liverpool plan for life without Luis Suarezeither temporarily due to his four-month ban or permanently if the Uruguayan joins Barcelona, as is expected according to Andersonand is all set for a medical at Melwood.

And that’s excellent news for the Reds. Because while Shaqiri has already made his big career move—from Basel to Bayern in 2012—and is now looking for an exit strategy, Markovic is still eager for a chance to shine in one of Europe's top leagues.

Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic, who played with Markovic at Benfica until January, believes the youngster has the potential to become one of the best players in Europe.

Matic told Tom Kundert of the Daily Mirror:

"What can I say about Markovic? He has such massive potential that if he changed his attitude in training, he could be one of Europe's best players in his position. But he's young, he'll mature, and then nobody will be able to stop him!"

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has a history of coaxing the right attitude out of previously troubled playerssuch as Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge, not to mention what he has gone through with Suarezso that should not prove to be too much of a problem.

And that's not to say that Matic isn't already a quality player. Benfica coach Jorge Jesus cajoled seven goals in 49 matches from the forward, who generally operates on the left or right flank, en route to winning the domestic treble last season.

Snapped up from Partizan Belgrade in 2013, his former coach Avram Grant was quoted by James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo as saying: "I can say that apart from [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi, Markovic is one of the best talents I've ever seen at 19 years of age."

He is certainly not the finished article and can go missing in games, but the potential is there for all to see.

Kundert, a Portugal football expert, points out

His single season at the Estadio da Luz suggests Markovic has every chance of making good on the hype. His ability to dribble at lightning pace with his head up and provide an end product, be it an incisive pass or a cool finish, marking him out as something special from the beginning.

Markovic can play out wide or as a striker, making him the perfect fit for Rodgers' fluid forward line at Anfield.

And given the manager's track record for getting the best out of the players at his disposal, few would bet against Markovic making a big impact on the Premier League, not least his former team-mate Matic.