One of the most exciting young talents in world football is headed to the Premier League, as Liverpool have made official the signing of former Benfica man Lazar Markovic.
Benfica confirmed it sold its stake in Markovic in a release on Tuesday (via Ed Malyon of The Daily Mirror):
Liverpool also confirmed the signing via the team's Twitter account:
Before the signing was official, Markovic took to Facebook to say goodbye to the fans of Benfica:
He also posted the following picture to his Facebook account:
The Serbian star made 49 total appearances for Benfica last year, scoring seven goals. Five of those appearances came in the Champions League, where he earned a 6.37 average match rating according to WhoScored.com, and another eight came in the Europa League, where he compiled a 6.4 mark.
Appearing that frequently for a club of Benfica's prestige is quite impressive for a 20-year-old, and he played an important part in their Portuguese Liga title. Liverpool will be expecting him to make an impact immediately, though he may need to be granted a slight adjustment period.
Markovic is a wizard on the ball, and it seems to stick to his feet even at top speed. He makes smart decisions for a young man and certainly has the ability to score goals. Defenders in the Premier League will find it difficult to stay in front of the pacey winger.
Matteo Bonetti of beIN Sport thinks the signing is a crucial one for Liverpool:
Great, great move by Liverpool to snag Markovic. Fantastic to watch when he's in full flight down the field.— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) July 14, 2014
Markovic joins former Southampton stars Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert and an exciting prospect in 20-year-old midfielder Emre Can as Liverpool additions this summer. And with Luis Suarez being sold to Barcelona for a reported £75 million fee—along with the club having the extra money that comes with a Champions League berth—the Reds surely aren't done on the market just yet.
That means the club will likely be on the market for both established stars and young prodigies like Markovic, the rare talent that can help the club next year but should have big things in store several years down the line as well.
No, he won't replace Suarez's 31 league goals. Only a handful of players in the world could come close to that tally. But Markovic is one of the game's bright young talents, and is an excellent decision for a Liverpool side looking to replicate, or better, last year's second-place finish on the Premier League table.