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Markovic Performance Against Arsenal Revives Old Conundrum

The young winger seems to realize his chances to stick at Liverpool may be running out. Is it too late?

Arsenal v Hull City - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

This may come as a surprise to some supporters, but Lazar Marković is, at least on paper, still a player under contract for Liverpool Football Club. Once expected to be a key piece of the puzzle in Liverpool’s future setup, the Serbian winger has instead found himself semi-permanently on loan, seeing spells at Fenerbahçe, Sporting Lisbon, and now Hull City. The collective indifference which greeted the announcement of Marković’s most recent loan assignment signals just how much his development has stalled.

This half-season run with the Tigers may be his last opportunity to prove he has a long term future with Liverpool, so it’s fortunate for Marković that his manager at Hull City is someone who appreciates his talents. While at Estoril, Marco Silva got a good view of a then-teenaged Marković as the winger elicited some high profile attention en route to a Primeira Liga title with Benfica.

Against Arsenal, Marković was one of Hull City’s bright spots in a match that might might have yielded more for Silva’s squad had some poor officiating not got in the way. It was the kind of performance that raised a few eyebrows, though admittedly this was primarily among the Liverpool Twitterati who had been clamoring for the club to recruit some pace on the wings during the January transfer window.

Barely ten minutes into the contest against the Gunners, Marković won possession, galloped down the right and danced past another defender before laying off a pass that barely eluded Oumar Niasse, who was waiting for an easy tap in. After going behind thanks to a handball by Alexis Sanchez, Hull City pushed hard for an equalizer, and Marković’s pace on the wing proved to be a key outlet.

In the second half, Marković’s ability to elude attention on the right allowed him acres of space in which to race forward, and once again look for Niasse in the middle, who was unable to beat Petr Cech. Marković almost had the opportunity to score the leveller himself when a lucky bounce found him as the farthest Hull City man forward and nobody in a red shirt standing in the way other than Cech. Closing in from behind, Kieran Gibbs promptly bundled Marković over, and was very lucky not to have been sent off for the foul.

Final scoreline aside, it was the type of performance against a top-flight side that should do wonders for Marković’s confidence. Consistency remains an issue, as was the case when Brendan Rodgers was scratching his head trying to get the best out of the player. All too often, the winger has gone missing for spells during matches, and he has never made a convincing case that he should see consistent minutes for Liverpool. It was a bit of a Catch-22 situation until Marco Silva came along, and some consistent minutes in the Premier League should allow Jürgen Klopp to get a much better sense of what he has to work with in Marković.

“He struggled with a few injuries,” said Klopp about the 22-year-old when the Hull City loan was finalized. “If he can stay fit and help out at Hull then it’s easier for us to look with him there compared to Portugal.” All things considered, the current situation is probably the best possible scenario for Marković, with a Liverpool manager who isn’t ready to write him off completely, and a current manager who seems willing to put him a position where his talents can shine. Could there be a fairytale ending in the works?

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