Who is that guy? Yes, that’s right. He’s the £20m flop – one of the most expensive in Liverpool FC’s history.
It seems like an eternity since the Serbian winger came to Liverpool with so much promise on the back of a campaign that produced a domestic treble for Benfica. Liverpool had just missed out on the English Premier League title, and Luis Suarez had just left for FC Barcelona.
The Suarez money was spent on a number of young players with promise, alongside Rickie Lambert and controversial figure Mario Balotelli, who wasn’t the club’s first option for a striker. It took a large chunk of that money to bring Markovic over to Merseyside.
We can argue about the qualities of the players signed in that summer of 2014 – but what we’ll all agree on is that Markovic was arguably the most desperately disappointing one.
34 first team appearances, 3 goals and 1 assist. Hardly what you’d hope for when spending £20m, snatching a young player full of potential from under the noses of some of Europe’s biggest clubs, most notably Chelsea, who were looking at signing him that summer. They opted against it, even though they had first option on him after signing Nemanja Matic.
He’ gone out on loan to Fenerbahce, Sporting Lisbon and Hull City. The first two were disastrous – his season at Fenerbahce was hampered by injury and he barely just made 21 appearances before coming back to find that Klopp had taken over from Rodgers.
Klopp opted to send him away too – and he ended up staying for half a season at Sporting Lisbon, with a miserable spell that culminated in him being sent back to Melwood in January. In the second half of the season, he was at Hull – arguably his best spell since leaving Benfica. Under Marco Silva, he appeared 14 times and scored twice – though his disciplinary record took a hit with 5 yellow cards.
It’s worth noting that Liverpool were in dire need of a winger last January, with Mane at the African Cup of Nations and a number of injuries at the time. It’s telling how Klopp decided to go without a designated winger rather than have Markovic at his disposal.
Fast forward one summer. Markovic was up for sale for £16m and available for loan with no takers. There was interest, but it wasn’t followed up on.
The Serbian remains at Liverpool with absolutely no hope of getting game time. Academy products have been preferred when backup was needed. He’s only just made one appearance for the U23s in the Premier League 2.
The verdict here is that this wasn’t a transfer that was thoroughly studied. It was clear from the off that Markovic lacked the physique needed to take on opponents in England. He gets marshalled off the ball far too easily, unlike players such as Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. His lack of physique has led to mistakes such as the foul that got him sent off against Basel in Liverpool’s last Champions League campaign.
It was another one of the famed ‘transfer committee’ signings – one of many that have failed to impress.
Markovic is destined to sit alongside Liverpool’s other expensive flops for as long as history can remember – Mario Balotelli, Alberto Aquilani, Andy Carroll and Christian Benteke, amongst others.