After months of trying to prove to the Liverpool fans he’s worth the £20m the club forked out on him, Lazar Markovic’s outstanding performance against Sunderland on Saturday proved the Reds could have one hell of a player at their disposal.
Before Liverpool’s hard-fought 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light, Markovic had largely failed to make an impression since his high profile move from Benfica in the summer. Just one League Cup goal against Bournemouth, and a foolish red card in their vital Champions League group game with Basel, were the only headlines the Serbian made since joining.
But after a truly exceptional performance against the Black Cats, are we now seeing the player we have been expecting to see for five months? In a nutshell – yes.
The 20-year-old was the Reds’ standout player, looking lively throughout, and before he scored the only goal of the game he should have been awarded a penalty. Just to top off his superb display, the Serbian international hit an audacious second-half scissor volley, crashing the ball off the underside of the bar.
Ok, it was only one game, and we must not get carried away, but Brendan Rodgers knew about Markovic’s ability when he brought the winger to Anfield. The Liverpool boss told The Telegraph:
“It is nothing that we haven’t seen before because he is a top young talent. It shows what a difficult league this is for any player to come in, let alone a very young player. Then add the fact that he is coming to one of the biggest clubs in the world.”
He added: “So it takes time, but a lot of our young players are starting to bed into our philosophy and the way we play. You will see them develop and come on a lot in the next six months. He has been pretty consistent. I had a chat with him a while ago about his aggression and he got sent off in the next game. But I want him to be aggressive with and without the ball. He is a talent.”
It’s undoubtedly been a turbulent season on Merseyside thus far. After surprisingly pushing Manchester City so close for the title last term, the Reds have massively underachieved this term. Obviously, the loss of Luis Suarez has been a major factor, as well as Daniel Sturridge’s lengthy injury layoff keeping the England international out of most of the campaign.
But things are starting to look up for Brendan Rodgers’ side – his summer signings are beginning to bed-in and Sturridge has returned to training. For all the doom and gloom that has surrounded the club for most of the season, Liverpool have now lost just once in their last 13 games in all competitions.
It may have taken Markovic a long time to adapt to the English Premier League, but Liverpool now look like they have a very handy and talented player on their hands, who has the potential to go on and be a world-class winger.