By Lewis Rooke – @LV_Rooke
Has there ever been a player so far out in the cold at any club than Lazar Markovic?
You’d be forgiven for forgetting the Serbian winger – once one of the top five most expensive purchases ever in Liverpool’s history in 2014 – even existed, let alone was still a part of the Reds title-chasing roster.
As I took my seat for a Liverpool pre-season game against Blackburn away at Ewood Park earlier this campaign, I had to seriously squint my eyes as I saw a greasy brown mop take to the field.
Still not convinced of my own sanity, I looked down into my tea just to confirm I had not accidentally consumed some sort of hallucinatory drug sparking a vision of past-awful Liverpool players. I was half expecting Mario Balotelli to make an appearance as I went in for the second sip.
But no, despite a lot of other evidence to the contrary I had not lost my senses. Yes, it was actually Lazar Markovic still donning a red jersey in 2018.
Despite a series of desperate loan moves around Europe engineered solely to put the 24-year-old into the shop window, Markovic has continued to underwhelm to such an extent that the former £20 million man can’t even be given away.
The Serbian outcast turned down a deal out in the Belgian First Division at Anderlecht, rejecting a move that would have seen Liverpool make a colossal 75% loss on his initial transfer fee, over his own lofty wage concerns.
One has to wonder, having flattered to deceive at Liverpool, Fenerbahce, Sporting CP, Hull City as well as Anderlecht, if the nomadic Serbian has given up on his career – and is just happy to collect the last of his remaining pay packet before packing up his bindle and roaming the European wilderness hoping for a club to take him on. I suspect that this is highly likely to be the case.
Yet, the case of Lazar Markovic does serve a purpose. It’s a night and day glimpse of how Liverpool’s transfer business has evolved over the past five years. Signed purely down to hope he could emulate former Benfica man Angel Di Maria, the career path of Markovic could not have been more different.
Lack of commitment, short of determination and his potential over-estimated, his purchase was typical of Brendan Rodgers’ ill-fated later years – who saw the same problems arise with the likes of Mario Balotelli and Christian Benteke. These days though, things couldn’t be further away from that sorry state of affairs.
Jurgen Klopp has built a squad of players where attitude comes first, where anyone arriving through the Anfield gates must first and foremost be prepared to die for the badge – and by god it shows as Liverpool currently sit atop the Premier League.
It’s this exact reason that players such as Lazar Markovic have been left well behind in the dust. Quite happy to trundle along sat on his backside after being told numerous times to leave the club, his presence is the final remnant of Liverpool’s darker days. His is an important tale to remember, as we currently bask in the beaming light of the Premier League summit.