Liverpool have a history of buying up and coming young footballers from around the world, but some just don’t work out. They come into the team and make an impression before fading off into obscurity.
One of these young players is Lazar Markovic. When he signed for Liverpool in the summer of 2014 from Benfica he cost £20 million. Unlike some of the YouTube Liverpool fans, I had actually seen Markovic play.
The season before he joined the club I had seen him play for Benfica in the Europa League.
He had pace to burn, an eye for goal and was a decent crosser of the ball. These attributes were something that the team lacked at the time.
When Raheem Sterling was sold to Manchester City, the only out and out winger in the squad was Jordan Ibe. With the weight of expectation on his young shoulders, Ibe’s performances on the pitch deteriorated as Liverpool struggled in front of goal.
The signing of Markovic was a coup. He was one of Europe’s promising wingers and under the guidance of a proper manager his full potential could be unlocked.
Then Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers had a plan for Markovic; to use him as a stop gap player and fill in where players were injured. But this often meant that the young Serbian winger was played out of position.
In his only full season at the club, Markovic played more as a right back/wing back than he did as an actual winger.
Playing out of position, his performances were poor to say the least. This in turn created a poisonous feeling towards the player from fans and he was quickly written off.
It came as no surprise to many when it was announced that for the 2015/2016 season Markovic would be joining Turkish giants Fenerbache on loan.
This loan should have been the spring board for him to show Brendan Rodgers and the Liverpool fans what he was made of and help him rediscover the form that convinced the club to pay £20 million for him.
Sadly, however, the loan move did not work out. Constant injuries meant he only played fourteen games over the course of the season and he was sent back to Anfield dejected.
In 2015, things had changed at Anfield when Rodgers was sacked and Jürgen Klopp took over the reins.
This should have been the time for Markovic to shine. Klopp plays fast, attacking football, liked his wingers to take on players and beat them. This is something Markovic excelled at during his time at Benfica.
But for the second season in a row it was announced that the young Serb was off on his travels. This time it was back to Portugal with Sporting CP.
According to rumours, Klopp had insisted on a 75% playing time clause for all his players who were sent on loan and Markovic should have used this clause to shine.
Again though, the young Serb failed to impress and he was sent back to Liverpool after less than six months in Portugal.
With Sadio Mane away at the AFCON, last January I was hoping that Klopp would make use of Markovic. Allow him to get some much needed game time under his belt which would be useful in building Markovic’s confidence back up. This would help him take the next step in his career and show that he did have a future at Anfield.
I was to be left disappointed as Markovic was only utilised in cup games. While he was frustrating to watch at times, it was evident that the player who had helped Benfica in the Europa League may just be able to help the club in their battle to gain entry to Champions League.
Whatever the reasons, Markovic failed to push on and impress. He was loaned to Hull for the remainder of the season and while he did well at times, more often than not he was anonymous in games as Hull were eventually relegated.
Last summer, it has been made clear that Markovic has no future at Anfield.
At only 23 there’s still plenty of time for Markovic to fulfil his potential. A lot of things went wrong for him at Liverpool.
The fee, a manager playing him out of position, not having the time to adjust to the rigours of one of the fastest and physical leagues in Europe all hindered his development.
Lazar Markovic's physique has been 'abominable' and is currently undergoing an extra training program to get to level. Anderlecht manager has said that it would take 5-6 weeks before he gets some game time. [@Rsca_Online_NL] pic.twitter.com/MHiZS7Nmit
— LFC Transfer Room (@LFCTransferRoom) February 9, 2018
Sadly for Markovic he will always be remembered as a player who came in with bags of potential but failed to live up to it, which for a player of his quality, is not how he would have liked his time at Liverpool to be remembered.
Having now joined Anderlecht on loan who seemed like the only club willing to take it, reports have claimed he is massively unfit. It’s quite clear, Liverpool will be relieved to offload him permanently when the opportunity finally arises.