A Case For Lazar Marković
Like Portuguese defender Tiago Ilori before him, Serbian winger Lazar Marković has become one of Liverpool’s forgotten men this season. As an out and out winger Marković was the last player fans expected to see loaned out this season especially with Jordan Ibe being Liverpool’s only other out and out winger in the 2015/2016 squad. There was a mixture of shock, annoyance and surprise for some fans when it was announced by Liverpool that Marković would be sent out on loan to Turkish Super League side Fenerbahçe for the 2015/2016 season.
Marković’s last season received a lot of unwarranted stick, criticism and abuse from a certain section of the Liverpool fanbase because of his performances in certain games. While it is easy for some fans to criticise Marković and his performances these fans need to remember a few things, firstly Marković is only a young player, he was always going to need time to adjust to the hussle of the Premier League; secondly he was going to need time to get used to a new language and need time to get used to a new style of football and the last but by no means least problem for Marković was Brendan Rodgers’ insistence on continuously playing him out of position for a large proportion of last season. Under Rodgers, Marković was unable to adequately settle in the Premier League, he was unable to adequately settle in a new city and I believe these factors affected his performances on the pitch.
When Marković signed for Liverpool in the summer of 2014 I can honestly say I was excited. Why? Well, because I had actually seen Marković in action. I had watched him play for Benfica in the Europa League in the 2013/2014 season. His pace and his will to always want to attack impressed me greatly, especially because he was a young player. He played with no shackles, with a maturity of a player who had years of experience in top flight football and seemed to enjoy his football. And because Liverpool lacked a pacy out and out winger I couldn’t wait to see him at Anfield. His potential was also enormous.
Marković started his career at the youth team of Borac Čačak in his native Serbia. In 2006 Marković moved to Partizan as a twelve year old trainee. While at Partizan, Marković was named among the twenty five best players in the Super Liga for two years running. He was also named in the Jelen Super Liga team of the year in 2013. Marković played a total of forty six games for Partizan scoring thirteen goals before he moved to Benfica in the summer of 2013. In his only season in Portugal Marković won the domestic treble. Such was his performances for Benfica Liverpool splashed out £20 million for him just one season in the Primeira Liga in Portugal.
Markovic played a total of thirty one games last season for Liverpool in all competitions scoring three goals. He created nineteen chances, had a shot success rate of 23%, his average pass accuracy was 81%, his duel success rate was 46%, his passes averaged fifteen metres and his average defensive actions over the nineteen Premier League games he played was two, which is in itself impressive for an attack minded player. His defensive actions are a testament to how far back the pitch Rodgers played him.
Marković this season plays for Fenerbahçe in the Turkish Super League, has created fourteen chances, has a shot accuracy of 33%, his pass accuracy percentage has dropped to 74%, his average duels won have increased to 47%. His average pass length has remained at fifteen metres and his average defensive actions is one. Marković though has only played twenty games in all competitions due to injuries he has picked up. By the end of the season I fully expect his stats to eclipse the ones of the 2014/2015 season at Liverpool.
Such are his performances for Fenerbahçe this season, that they submitted a bid to buy him outright in the January transfer window, which was quickly rejected by Liverpool. Marković is a player for the future. Under the management and guidance of Jürgen Klopp I have no doubt he will fulfil his potential and I have no doubt he will have no trouble adapting to high intensity game Klopp likes to play. He showed his class when it was announced that Marko Grujic had signed for Liverpool by hyping up the club to him. He was a big factor in his compatriot rejecting some of Europe’s other clubs in favour of Liverpool and I have a feeling next season he will live up to all the hype that has been around him and show Liverpool fans exactly what he is made of.