Lazar Markovic has signed for Liverpool in a fee worth £19.8 million. Following such a high transfer fee, Liverpool fans will be curious to know what their new player can bring to the table.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, European football expert Andy Brassell could only muster positives about the Serbian international, suggesting that the sky's the limit for Markovic.
“If he has a good season, it will seem pretty cheap pretty quickly,” he said. “He’s one of the very best young players in Europe, I don't think there’s any doubt about that. He’s got an uncommon gift.
“I think a lot of people were expecting him to come to Benfica last season and just dip a toe in. Benfica are extremely strong in midfield, but he managed to come out on top and play a lot of games.
“The potential he has is absolutely enormous.”
“He looked the business right from the start,” said Andy. “For him to come in and to have the personality to impose himself on what was quite a fragile squad was quite impressive.
“Maybe it’s hard for an English-based audience to perceive, but the size of Benfica is enormous and every game is a huge, huge pressure. For him to have the balls to deal with that is quite impressive at that age.
“It’s clear there is work to do but there is huge potential to work with. You've got a player that, despite the fact he’s only just turned 20, is able to grab a game by the scruff of the neck in a way not a lot of players can. It was obvious from his first outings.”
“He plays in an inside-right role a lot of the time,” said Andy. “He’s got playmaker skills but is sometimes deployed in a wide area. He can play as a number 10 as well. That’s where he’s most effective - in central areas - but you could have him on the left cutting in, or on the right cutting in.
“He’s so technically gifted. The fact he’s got the mental ability to go with it is what makes him such an incredible prospect.”
Andy, who cites Markovic’s modest goals record as the area of his game which needs most improvement, says the Serb will be sorely missed in Lisbon.
“They would have liked to have kept him for another season but it’s part of life in Portuguese football,” he said. “The fans would love him to stay but they know that’s not realistic.”
Markovic started his career in Partizan Belgrade, winning the Serbian SuperLiga (Serbian equivalent of Premier League) three times in a row. He was nominated into the SuperLiga team of the year on two of those three occasions between 2011 and 2013.
His impressive form prompted a move to Benfica where he scored 5 times (including one on his debut) in 26 league appearances, helping the team to a league and cup double.
He proved to be a big hit as he was voted Portuguese Player of the Month twice in a row between January and February. He was also a big part of Benfica's Europa League campaign as the club finished as finalists; Markovic was voted into the Europa League team of the year.
With 12 international caps for Serbia to his name at the tender age of 20, it appears Markovic has all the potential to become an international star.