Liverpool Transfer News: World-Class Stars Shortlisted by Brendan Rodgers

Danny CollinsFeatured ColumnistJuly 13, 2014

Benfica's Lazar Markovic, from Serbia, right, scores the opening goal after chipping the ball over the Guimaraes' goalkeeper during their Portuguese league soccer match Monday, Feb. 24 2014, at Benfica's Luz stadium in Lisbon. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Armando Franca/Associated Press

Liverpool kick-started their expected summer spending spree with the capture of Lazar Markovic for a reported £19.8 million, according to Metro.

Bleacher Report UK tweeted Markovic's farewell message to Benfica's fans following the news:

Former Chelsea manager Avram Grant rates the youngster highly, and the Daily Star's Paul Hetherington quotes him as saying: "Apart from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Markovic is one of the best young players I have ever seen.”

High praise indeed.

It is expected to be a busy summer for Brendan Rodgers' side after the sale of Luiz Suarez to Barcelona for £75 million. And the signing of Markovic, the 20-year-old Serbian winger, is a sign of things to come. The Reds have already completed the signing of Southampton duo Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JULY 12:  A shirt of new FC Barcelona player Luis Suarez are seen on display at the FC Barcelona official store on July 12, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Nick Lustig of the Daily Star reported that Rodgers has been handed a £133 million war chest by owner John W. Henry following the sale of the influential Suarez, and Markovic is the first of his targets to have been completed. 

Lustig reports that Rodgers will now raid Southampton again in pursuit of Dejan Lovren before setting his sights on Swansea City's Wilfried Bony.

The loss of Suarez leaves a gaping hole in Liverpool's attacking options despite the excellent form of Daniel Sturridge and the acquisition of Lambert. In Bony, Liverpool would be buying a proven Premier League goalscorer, one who bagged 16 strikes last term. 

Metro tweeted these telling statistics about Bony's fantastic influence for the Swans this season.

A spending spree using the funds from Suarez's sale will not necessarily guarantee Liverpool success next term, however. As Tottenham Hotspur learned painfully last season, despite the purchase of several up-and-coming players, they could not replace their one truly world-class star, Gareth Bale

Rodgers' challenge will be to buy young, hungry talent that can fill the considerable void left by the Uruguayan. And in the purchase of Lallana and Lambert, Liverpool have failed to do that. Neither with Markovic can the Reds say they have purchased proven quality. 

Only Bony, with 16 goals to his name in a struggling side, might justify the price of a move to Anfield.