Picking a Liverpool Starting XI to Include Lazar Markovic
Having lost Luis Suarez to Barcelona, Brendan Rodgers must now adjust his project accordingly and the arrivals of Markovic, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert show his intentions to further improve Liverpool's deadly attack.
Based on the signings of the summer so far, and some tactical assumptions taken from Liverpool's performances last season, we've picked a Liverpool XI to include Markovic.
Do you agree? How do you see Rodgers lining up his side? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet
The 26-year old may has had a quiet summer playing benchwarmer to Thibaut Courtois during Belgium's World Cup campaign, so he'll be raring to get his second season at Liverpool going.
Right-back: Glen Johnson
Johnson's form was inconsistent during 2013-14, caught out of position on several key occasions and lacking the pace he once showed. However, with few options at right-back for Liverpool, the 29-year-old looks set to continue as a first-team regular.
Centre-back: Martin Skrtel
Likewise with Skrtel—brilliant patches of form during 2013-14 and some match-winning challenges, but is he Mamadou Sakho's long-term centre-back partner? Southampton's Dejan Lovren has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool this summer, as per Simeon Gholam of the Daily Mail, but Skrtel keeps his place in the team for now.
Sakho was one of France's outstanding performers at the World Cup and having comfortably settled into Liverpool's defence last season, he will provide the strength, pace and agility needed help to fix the cracks that appeared.
Left-back: Jon Flanagan
With Aly Cissokho having returned to Valencia following his loan spell at Liverpool and Jose Enrique having not played through injury for almost a year, 21-year-old Flanagan looks set to carry on defensive responsibilities on the left.
That is, of course, if Liverpool don't sign a left-back this summer, with Swansea City's Ben Davies the latest name to be linked, as per Chris Bascombe of The Telegraph. Should the position be filled by a summer signing, Flanagan may well challenge Johnson for his place at right-back.
Deep-lying playmaker: Steven Gerrard
Gerrard rejuvenated his career by being moved to a more defensive position in between the back four and midfield last season, but from there he can continue to begin Liverpool's attacking phases of play.
With an increase in games for Liverpool next season due to their participation in the Champions League, could Gerrard be rested more frequently, allowing the likes of Lucas, Joe Allen and new signing Emre Can to step forward?
Central attacking midfield: Jordan Henderson
Similarly with Henderson, Rodgers may look to shift his midfield formation and personnel regularly. However, the former Sunderland work-horse would fit perfectly into providing a link between Liverpool's defence and attack—and playing in the likes of Markovic.
Attacking midfield: Lallana
Liverpool will be looking to benefit from the creativity and versatility that Lallana has shown both for Southampton and England. Able to play in a variety of attacking positions from midfield, Lallana will also provide a key way for Liverpool to attack successfully.
Left attacking forward: Lazar Markovic
Having adapted from a left-sided midfielder into a left-sided forward at Benfica last season, Markovic's tricky runs will be exploited. He has the chance to make the left side of Liverpool's attacks his own with a good first season at Anfield.
Central attacking forward: Daniel Sturridge
With Suarez having departed, Sturridge becomes Liverpool's leading man for goals and if his 24 in 2013-14 are anything to go by, he's the perfect man to be finishing for the Reds up front.
Right attacking forward: Raheem Sterling
Sterling's development took a rapid rise during 2013-14 to become one of the team's most important players. Having formulated a wonderful partnership and understanding with Suarez, he will be looking to work with Sturridge, Markovic and Lallana in keeping Liverpool's relentless attacks going in 2014-15.
Hot on the heels and keeping pressure on both Sterling and Markovic for their places will be Brazilian magician Philippe Coutinho, whose tricky feet in the final third can be a staple of Rodgers' attack-based philosophy.