During tournament summers the movement in the transfer market, hampered by the fact that so many of the most coveted players are involved in the competition, can be glacial. Liverpool Football Club have not allowed any grass to grow beneath their feet, however, and should all go well with Lazar Markovic's medical later, they will have made their fourth acquisition since the season ended, with no signs of the recruitment stopping any time soon. This pleasing assiduousness has managed to offset the creeping angst that has infiltrated the very souls of Reds' fans who have come to understand that the era of Luis Suárez as the brilliant, if batshit, leader of the Liverpool line is over.
The crudely effective way to make that unease abate is to replace Ol' Bitey in the affections of those supporters and the eminently sagacious strategy that the Liverpool hierarchy seem to be adopting is to smother fans in an array of exciting new talent rather than simply trying to find a solitary substitute for the absurdly gifted Uruguayan. Supporters will argue the merits of each of these new Redmen, and the whinier cohort will snort derisively and cite all the fine footballers Liverpool haven't signed but such joyless souls are never satisfied and their relative loudness is not reason enough to entertain their boundless negativity. Surely, at least a modicum of optimism is apposite, so far from the start of the new season and with the dazzling glare of last campaign's unprecedented excellence still glinting in the rear view mirror?
Today then, according to the good folk at the Liverpool Echo, Dr. Zaf Iqbal will run the rule over 20 year old Serbian international, Lazar Markovic. The highly regarded forward will undergo his medical at Melwood later, amidst the usual toe-curlingly awkward and frankly creepy photos that Liverpool fans have come to look forward to. The young man has just had a fine season with Benfica, making 26 appearances and scoring five goals as they won the Primeira Liga. Remarkably, in each of his previous three campaigns as a professional footballer, all at Partizan Belgrade, Markovic also won the title, meaning he has only ever been a champion. Liverpool fans will hope the remarkable trend continues.
No doubt, like me, you are You Tube educated on the delights of young master Markovic. The study period in front of my overworked laptop was a rewarding one, with the long haired attacker looking to be possessed of pace, trickery and an ability to finish. One goal from last season, against Vitória Guimaraes was so audaciously executed, it reminded your scribbler of a memorable strike scored by our outgoing superstar against Newcastle. While we all understand the utter folly of trusting only our own online scouting via highlights packages, there have been quite a few interesting testimonials which add credence to the idea that, should the deal go through, Liverpool may have a fine footballer on their hands.
Avram Grant, a former manager of the talented youngster at Partizan Belgrade, speaks glowingly of Markovic. The famously laconic Israeli is not noted for his effusiveness but his judgement is unequivocally positive. Grant, a likeable fellow whose hangdog expression and rumbling vocal delivery suggest a man eternally on the verge of quiet desperation, manages to elevate his former charge into some fairly heady company when he insists that he "can say that apart from Ronaldo and Messi, Markovic is one of the best talents I’ve ever seen at 19 years of age." Praise, indeed.
Assessment of a more qualified kind comes from Nemanja Matic, who played in the same side as Markovic for Partizan. Matic is very clear that he believes his old teammate has the potential to rise to the very top of the game but there is a thinly veiled jibe at the Serbian's passion for the less glamorous side of the game.
"What can I say about Markovic? It was excellent playing with this kid for six months. He has such massive potential that if he changed his attitude in training he could be one of Europe’s best players in his position," said Matic intriguingly. "But he’s young, he’ll mature, and then nobody will be able to stop him."
This guarded and somewhat bitchy revelation is something that will be of particular interest to Brendan Rodgers and one is tempted to imagine another buttock-clenchingly awkward Being: Liverpool-style admonishment for Markovic, if his demeanour at Melwood is not all the Antrim man would want. Liverpool's prospective new boy would do well to confer with Raheem Sterling on the relative merits of a "steady" lifestyle and respect for one's manager. Perhaps then, this young man, along with his fellow new recruits, will help fans move on and embrace a new set of successful post Suárez superstars.