I’m quite astonished to the reaction to the news that Lazar Markovic has been sent out on loan. It has been overwhelmingly negative. In some small part, I can understand. The player clearly didn’t progress last season and considering Liverpool paid an eye-watering £20m for a player still young and developing in Portugal, certainly a raw talent and a really good potential future player, but it was a gamble, like so many other Liverpool signings.
I’d say last season, Markovic showed us glimpses of what he can do, he got a few goals- his one vs Bournemouth in the League Cup was a favourite but for the most part, he was stunted by lack of playing time, and when he was played, it was more often than not, out of position at Wing Back- a ludicrous decision which Rodgers continues to take flack for as he tried to force certain players into this role, which really did not work at all, look at the disaster of putting marauding centre-midfielder Emre Can there against Stoke for example….
I digress; I still believe that good can come from this loan deal despite all the pessimism. For starters, he’s likely to get considerably more playing time at Fenerbache, far more than at Liverpool. This is the main reason he’s gone there. It’s all well and good answering the call of the fans and loaning him to a Premier League team, but it’s no good if he doesn’t get the playing time or gets equal playing time to that he would get at Liverpool. Who is a viable Premier League team to send him out on loan too? Certainly no one in the Top 7 or 8, their squads are far too full to need Markovic. Anything lower and I would fear he wouldn’t get the development that is needed for him to get to the top level at Liverpool.
Secondly, he gets away from Rodgers. Now, I’m prepared to give the man another chance (the fans really don’t have a choice in the matter) and he’s done a decent job so far in the three games he’s had. It is of course early days and there’s plenty of time for a cock-up or two, but the chances of Markovic being thrown into the occasional game at wing-back really would not help him at all. You assume that if he’s going to Fenerbache, they will try to use him in the areas and positions he feels most comfortable in and where he can do his best for the team- so if he can play in his natural position as a left winger or just a general wide-forward role then he’s much more likely to find his feet and actually play well. Some might say that Markovic impressed in this wingback role, but that’s not the point, it was a temporary makeshift move by Rodgers to plug a gap that needed filling. Emre Can played well as a centre-back for a portion of the season but that doesn’t mean he’ll play there again, maybe if things get really bad, sure but it’s not a permanent thing, Can’s role will be in centre midfield, just as Markovic’s place will be out-wide or upfront.
Let’s not forget either that the lad is still only 21 years old. He still has plenty of time to develop and really kick on. What’s the say that he won’t have an amazing season with Fenerbache? How do we know he won’t get 10-15 goals and a dozen or two assists? Now, don’t get me wrong, I know the Turkish League isn’t the Premier League by any stretch, but I don’t think it’s about that. It’s simply about getting Markovic’s belief and confidence back, that yes, he can cut it at this level, and that yes, if given a run of games, he can be a quality player. It’s like anything, the more you do something, generally, the better you’re going to get. The more Markovic plays at this level, the more he will feel at home and settled by the time he returns to Anfield.
It’s a pity that Serbia are pretty much out of the European Championships in the summer already due to their current standing of -2 points in the qualifying Group I. I believe a good tournament would really have helped Markovic and if he impressed, would have shown Liverpool fans that indeed, he has learnt a lot whilst out in Turkey.
The pessimism of Liverpool fans to this news won’t help him further. We look at Balotelli being loaned back to Milan and for some reason, draw parallels to Markovic’s deal. This is idiotic beyond words and can show off how short-sighted some fans can be. I don’t think the timing of the two deals have helped in this regard, but it’s pretty damn clear that Balotelli will never play for Liverpool again. Markovic in comparison to the Italian’s season grabbed a few goals, even earned Man of the Match vs Sunderland. There’s clearly something there for fans to remain hopeful that he will indeed reach that potential we’ve been hearing about.
Football fans have forgot that loan deals can still be a good thing, even for players beyond the academies.