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Rumour Mongering: Lazar Marković Instead of Adam Lallana?

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Since Southampton are stalling on granting Adam Lallana's wish for Champions League football and frustrating Liverpool, the Merseyside club is reportedly eyeing a Benfica starlet as an alternative to the England international.

Valerio Pennicino

Lazar Marković has finally accomplished what any talented young footballer set out to do when they were just a wee kid kicking a ball around in ceaseless glee. It's not attaining a first professional contract and nor is it finally making an international appearance. It isn't getting five figures a week for the first time ever in the history of their young lives and it's not being noteworthy enough to make the gossip section of a national newspaper. Those are all fine achievements for any precocious footballer seeking to make a name in the world's most popular sport but being linked to Liverpool is the ultimate accolade, a seal of approval that goes far beyond holding -9,-10, or plus 160 potential in Football Manager.

Southampton want to receive more than Liverpool are offering for Adam Lallana and Liverpool want to pay less than Southampton are demanding for Adam Lallana. Furthermore, Liverpool want the deal completed before the World Cup kicks off next week, Bournemouth are due 25 percent of any deal struck, and Lallana wants the move to happen sometime soon. Another problem is that Southampton want a manager in place before making big decisions on big transfer fees and Liverpool seem to have made a final offer even if one suspects that there's another offer lurking somewhere in Liverpool's Transfer Committee. This doesn't sound like a deal that can be completed quickly and that's where our young man enters this story.

It was thought that Brendan Rodgers had his wide eyes trained on Marković last summer but Benfica's £30 million valuation proved to be problematic. Scared away, Liverpool looked elsewhere for a wide player to add to the squad and came to Chelsea for loan assistance. This summer, the the Europa League runners-up are in a more reasonable mood and want just £25 million for the Serbia international. Just £25 million! A saving of £5 million! What on earth are Liverpool waiting for? Well, this is a deal that's also beset by complications. Benfica own only 50 percent of the player and a mysterious, shadowy fund owns the other half.

Who wants another serving of further transfer complications? Chelsea are believed to have an option to buy Benfica's half of the player for only €7.5 million or £12.5 million for the player complete registration of the player, depending on which rumours one chooses to believe. It's murky and confusing but Chelsea are reputedly have a first-option deal with Benfica and FK Partizan, the two clubs Marković has played for in his short career to date.

Liverpool are a noted rival and Chelsea may not be fond of a talented youngster they've tracked since his time at FK Partizan blossom under Rodgers' tutelage. There are rumours that Chelsea already own his registration and is merely on loan at Benfica. Jorge Mendes has ties with Benfica, Jorge Mendes has ties with José Mourinho, José Mourinho manages Chelsea, Chelsea have ties with Benfica, and Liverpool don't have much in the way of an established relationship with any of the aforementioned parties in this potentially tricky transfer. This just looks messier than making a move for Mkhitaryan.

As for the player's fortunes in the 2013/2014 season, he's scored five times and created four goals in 26 (19 starts) Ligra Sagres appearances. He also featured heavily in Benfica's Champions League and Europa League campaigns but his performances in those competitions indicated that he still has much to learn. He's a full international and has scored 2 goals in 12 games for Serbia so there's pedigree at such a young age.

Why all the fuss? Lazar Marković is a right-footed flexible forward who can play on either flank and as a support striker. Possessing great technique, pace, dribbling ability, and awareness ensures that Marković is extremely dangerous once he skips away from an opponent into space with time to drive towards goal to shoot or pick out a pass. The term "dynamic" has been often used to describe the player and he's certainly direct enough to fit in even if he can work on timing when to release the ball. He constantly attracts defenders to his zone and thereby creates space for others through the perceived danger he possesses.

What's especially attractive about the player is that he operates in a side managed by Jorge Jesus and that means being diligent out of possession. Nicolás Gaitán, Rodrigo, and Lazar Marković are often seen tracking back to assist other Benfica players as well as press opposition defenders. He has a reputation for being a determined fellow on the field and is destined for a big move at some stage. Marković has the skill, flair, dedication, intelligence, speed, and potential to be a player of fearsome reputation in the years to come. He only turned 20 earlier in the year and has just finished his first season at Benfica so next season would probably be another one of development but he could certainly do that at Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers.

This would be a deal that wouldn't be cheap, simple, or quick to conclude for Liverpool. That doesn't mean that there's no chance of it happening but it is a slim one. At this stage, Adam Lallana or Xherdan Shaqiri seem to be far less complicated deals but if Liverpool are tracking Marković as a potential alternative to Lallana (even though they're completely different players) then that's further evidence of looking for talented attacking players who can fit the tactical systems and flexible footballing philosophy in place at the club.