Over the weekend, Lazar Markovic scored his first Premier League goal and nearly managed and to bag an even more impressive second. Now, with his most impressive performance yet for his new club behind him, the 20-year-old Serbian appears to have gone from promise for the future to, just maybe, a player for the present, too.
"I was absolutely delighted when I scored the goal," said Markovic, reflecting on Saturday’s goal, a marker that came after a month that had seen him earn a more regular role for an improved Liverpool side. "It was an unbelievable feeling. I have waited quite a while for that. I was hoping it would happen and I was absolutely delighted that it did."
The increasing minutes, the confidence, and over the weekend the goal have all come following a move back to wingback for the young Serb. It might not be the position fans would have expected to see him succeed at, but in the early stages of his Liverpool career it appears to be a move that has given him the time and space on the ball he needed.
As he develops, Markovic is likely to push forward again rather than attempting to learn the defensive game that would be required for a long-term stay at the position. For now, though, it’s a role that’s benefitting both club and player, and as long as Liverpool continue with three at the back and a holding midfielder, there’s no reason he won’t see more time there.
Despite all that, when Markovic looks back at Saturday’s match, he’ll remember it as much for the goal he almost got as the one he did. A flying karate kick of a half volley from outside the area that smacked off the crossbar before nearly deflecting in, it would have been Liverpool’s goal of the season—and the goal of Markovic’s career.
"If it had gone in, it would have been the best goal of my career," said the youngster. "I haven’t seen anyone try it like I did, [and] if I tried 10 times, I might not have scored a goal. I was hopeful it would be a goal. Nothing really goes through your head, you just go for it. It didn’t go in, but what can you do? You carry on."