News filtered through the footballing pipeline that Liverpool were on the verge of completing their fourth summer signing, just days after the opening of the summer transfer window.
But £20 million for a relatively-unproven talent from the Portuguese league does represent a risk.
A number of eyebrows would have been raised at the asking price but Brendan Rodgers has a history of pulling off astute transfers and Lazar Markovic is seemingly no different.
With a triumvirate of Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic likely to become a common feature next season, and Philippe Coutinho playing a big part as well, it is interesting to see how the four fare against each other in the race for regular starts.
Per game, the Liverpool duo are much the stronger and while that may point to a lacklustre acquisition on Rodgers' part, there is still room for optimism.
Markovic's Squawka Performance Score (-1) is in the negative, but it is based just on Europa League games. Markovic is also inferior when it comes to chances created and Lallana, along with Sterling, fare better in that department.
Markovic has pace in abundance and his neat foot-work means he is a great fit in a system Rodgers has adopted over the last season. Rapid transitional phases in play has seen the Northern Irishman go with quick-fleeted personnel and Markovic is of a similar breed. Despite his tender age, he has become one of Benfica's midfield metronomes.
What makes him slightly different, perhaps a different animal, is his aerial prowess. His height gives the Reds a different option, along with an outlet, and that is evident in the number of aerial battles he won during the Europa League campaign which saw the Portuguese giants reach the final.
The Benfica man won 40% of his battles in the air, with Lallana on 26.79% and young Sterling on 33.33%. With such welterweight sized players in the attacking department for Liverpool, Markovic gives Liverpool something different and in sticky games he could prove to be the difference, an option the Reds perhaps lacked last season.
Capable on both feet, Markovic is a multi-talented individual. Able to cut in from the left or right, it has helped him win 42% of his take ons attempted in the European competition.
His pass accuracy is promising and that provides the Serbian with the platform to excel in a Brendan Rodgers side. With the tiki-taka style put to one side, albeit slightly, Markovic's 81% accuracy means more often than not he will find a player and will help the Reds dominate games - something they did with plenty of success last term.
With roughly £20 million being spent on the pacey winger, Liverpool may not have a ready-made star on paper - but most certainly a gem in the making with all the right traits.
- Sports & Recreation
- Lazar Markovic
- Brendan Rodgers
- Adam Lallana