Lazar Markovic Is Solid Addition but Liverpool Now Need a Player in His Prime

Matt Ladson@mattladsonFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2014

Benfica's Lazar Markovic, from Serbia, scores past Gil Vicente's goalkeeper Adriano Fachini, right, from Brazil, during their Portuguese league soccer match at Benfica's Luz stadium in Lisbon, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013. Markovic scored once in Benfica's 2-1 win. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Francisco Seco/Associated Press

Liverpool have continued their squad strengthening with the signing of Lazar Markovic, as Benfica confirmed on their website.

The fee for Markovic—The Mirror say it's £19.8 million (€25 million) while The Liverpool Echo say it's £25 million—will take Brendan Rodgers' summer spending above the £50 million mark, having already added Adam Lallana, Emre Can and Rickie Lambert.

Back in May, some reports suggested Rodgers would have £60 million to spend this summer, plus any money raised via player sales. Which means the Northern Irishman, who thus far has not sold any players this summer, has at least the reported £75 million of Luis Suarez's fee to spend.

Throw in the anticipated departures of several squad players—namely Pepe Reina, Ousamma Assaidi, Fabio Borini, Lucas Leiva, Suso and possibly Daniel Agger—and Rodgers could have close to £100 million more to spend if he wanted.


Back to Markovic, the pacy wide forward is an exciting addition, able to play on either wing or in a central role. It's likely he will be used as a wide player in a new look front three in his first season in the Premier League.

Armando Franca/Associated Press

Aged only 20, it may take Markovic some time to adapt to the more physical nature of the league—just ask Iago Aspas—and therefore perhaps he won't be a regular in 2014/15.

His versatility does mean he will be able to fit into Rodgers' fluid attacking system and therefore he will still get plenty of appearances. He'll be one of the few players with Champions League experience at Anfield.


Seemingly, the departure of Suarez will see Rodgers return to his preferred 4-3-3 formation. The Reds' boss adapted to a midfield diamond shape in the latter stages of last season in order to accommodate Suarez and Daniel Sturridge in tandem up front.

Markovic, along with Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho will all contest the wide areas either side of Sturridge. Each of those four can also play in a more central role if/when Rodgers wishes to change shape, giving him great flexibility.

Clint Hughes/Associated Press

What this does mean though is that there is a huge responsibility on Sturridge to be the main man in the central role of the three.

Fabio Borini and Aspas' futures are in doubt, meaning Rickie Lambert is the only other player in the squad capable of playing the main centre forward role.

Given Sturridge's injury record too, it's essential that Rodgers signs a player capable of leading the line in attack, competing with Sturridge but also able to play alongside him or in a three-man attack. Yes, Alexis Sanchez would have been perfect. Now Rodgers must find a player of similar versatility.

This concerns me: Daniel Sturridge % of #EPL minutes played last 4 seasons: 10/11 33% 11/12 66% 12/13 37% 13/14 67% Overall 51% #LFC

— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) July 7, 2014


So who could Rodgers look towards?

Personally, I would prefer it to be a player who is more at home as a central player, rather than another wide player. So not Xherdan Shaqiri, Antione Griezmann or similar.

Gonzalo Higuain, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony are all players who are in their prime years and who can provide goals in that central role.

Michael Probst/Associated Press

Marco Reus, while he may cost a large amount of the Suarez money, would be a player who could also add to the attacking options, even though he isn't the centre-forward discussed. A complete attacking midfielder, Reus could play behind Sturridge or either side of him in a three.

Alternatively, perhaps Borini could make his mark and take what is now a huge opportunity for him this pre-season? Can he do enough to impress Rodgers and stake a claim for remaining at Anfield as one of those forward options?

Liverpool have a squad brimming with quality young players, the signings of Lallana and Lambert—two players in the best form of their respective careers—is a positive move and more signings of a similar nature would be welcome in the wake of Suarez's departure.

A centre-forward with Champions League experience would be a very wise choice for Rodgers. If he can find one.


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