The £20 million winger was afforded 45 minutes against Olympiacos on Sunday evening and showed glimpses of his potential, but faces stiff competition for a regular starting berthBy Alex Young
Just over an hour after Liverpool confirmed their fifth summer signing after securing the signature Dejan Lovren from Southampton, another new arrival, Lazar Markovic was given his debut for the club.
With the Reds failing to impress against Roma in a 1-0 loss last time out, Goal takes a look at how the 20-year-old got on against Olympiacos and what might be in store for the future...
|PERFORMANCE AGAINST OLYMPIACOS
Markovic endured a tame opening 20 minutes, which saw him struggle to get on the ball and then fail to deal with an Olympiacos attack when first called into defensive action.
But a neat and exciting dart forward saw him win a free kick on the edge of the area soon after. Despite Sturridge hitting the set-piece straight into the wall, the Greek outfit's defenders evidently struggled with the 20-year-old's turn of pace.
While Markovic may have had a sporadic effect on proceedings, when he saw time on the ball he really stood out. Just over 15 minutes later, the Serbia international again danced past two defenders with neat footwork before curling a shot over the bar.
It was perhaps a typical pre-season display for a new signing: rusty but, inevitably given the high hopes at this point of the summer, promising.
Overall, it was positive for Markovic, who showed glimpses of his £20 million price tag but his lack of match fitness was empathised by a handful of poor first touches and stray passes in his first-half outing.
|WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?|
Judging by a string of glowing reviews from past and present colleagues, Markovic very much has the world at his feet. Avram Grant described him as the best talent he has seen at the age of 19 since Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, while Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic is confident he will become "one of Europe's best players in his position" after playing alongside him at Benfica.
Markovic, though, has competition for a regular first-team place at Anfield. Raheem Sterling came to the fore under Brendan Rodgers last season as Liverpool narrowly missed out on a first league title since 1990, subsequently earning himself a place in England's World Cup squad.
Since then, Rodgers has also signed Adam Lallana for an even bigger fee of £25 million and, when fit, could well challenge Markovic for a starting berth depending on how the manager intends on setting up his midfield alongside the impressive Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson.
If Serbia head coach Ljubinko Drulovic insisting: "He can decide a game on his own. He's set to become a very important player for Serbia." With many observers more or less in agreement that the 20-year-old is destined for the very top of the game, a strong debut term in England could be on the cards.
|A GOOD SEASON WOULD BE...|
Put simply, the perfect scenario for Markovic in 2014-15 will be building on his highly promising potential in what is regarded as the toughest domestic league in the world.
With Luis Suarez gone and Liverpool perhaps waiting until January to sign a new striker, Markovic will be expected to weigh in with goals in his debut season. Any intangible 'wow factor' to help ease the pain of the Uruguayan's exit will be a bonus, and he certainly has it in his locker.
As discussed, the youngster does have competition for his place in the Liverpool starting line-up depending on how Rodgers sets his side up, with but he will be relied upon to make an impact as the Reds look to replace Suarez's goals.
He has been tipped for the very top and with another three friendlies before the big Premier League kick-off he will have every opportunity to get his fitness up and start the season with a bang.
The 20-year-old is young and will surely be determined to impress, so there is cause to be optimistic for Liverpool fans.
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