The Rise and Fall of Serbia Prodigy signed by Liverpool for £20m

The Rise and Fall of Serbia Prodigy signed by Liverpool for £20m

When England kick-off their Euro 2024 campaign against Serbia on Sunday, a number of familiar names will line-up against Gareth Southgate’s side.

The likes of Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dusan Tadic, and Djordje Petrovic will all be well-known to Premier League fans, to say nothing of their star man, Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic.

But despite their undeniably talented squad a former Liverpool star might have been his country’s biggest footballing export had his career panned out as it once seemed it would.

After emerging from the vaunted youth academy of Partisan Belgrade, Lazar Markovic quickly made an impression in the club’s first-team before being snapped up by Benfica in 2013.

Blessed with phenomenal technique, Markovic’s stock continued to rise in Portugal as he played a integral role Jorge Jesus’ all-conquering side in the 2013-14 season, providing ten goal contributions from 19 league starts as they won every domestic honour available to them.

Serbia get their Euro 2024 campaign underway on Sunday when they face England

But former Liverpool forward Lazar Markovic will play no part despite once being tipped to be his country's greatest-ever player

But former Liverpool forward Lazar Markovic will play no part despite once being tipped to be his country’s greatest-ever player

With reported interest from a number of Europe’s top clubs and former Chelsea boss Avram Grant comparing him to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Liverpool’s £20m capture of the 20-year-old was viewed as something of a coup for the Reds in 2014.

He said: ‘I can say that apart from Ronaldo and Messi, Markovic is one of the best talents I’ve ever seen at 19. It was excellent working with him for six months.’ 

Unfortunately for Markovic, the move would not pan out as so many had expected.

Limited to just 11 Premier League starts in his maiden campaign, Markovic’s indiscipline would cost him as he was shown a straight red card and subsequently handed a four-match European ban for appearing to flick his fingers in a Basel player’s face.

Less than a year after arriving at the club, a six-minute cameo against QPR in May of 2015 in his maiden campaign would ultimately prove to be his final competitive appearance for Liverpool.

From there, Markovic would embark on a series of loan moves, to Fenerbache, Sporting Lisbon, Hull City and Anderlecht.

Frozen out at Anfield and forced to train with the club’s under-23s, Markovic would finally depart the club in 2019 to join Fulham on a free transfer, nearly four years after his last appearance for the Reds. 

Claudio Ranieri had hoped to revitalise the attacking midfielder in a bid to save the Cottagers from relegation but it would be in vain.

Markovic managed just a single Premier League appearance at Craven Cottage before an injury ended his campaign and he was subsequently released.

Markovic arrived at Anfield to considerable fanfare back in Brendan Rodgers' time in charge

Markovic arrived at Anfield to considerable fanfare back in Brendan Rodgers’ time in charge

But he would find himself frozen out after just one season and embark on multiple loan spells

But he would find himself frozen out after just one season and embark on multiple loan spells

Markovic currently plies his trade at Turkish top-flight side Gaziantep and hasn't represented his country since 2016

Markovic currently plies his trade at Turkish top-flight side Gaziantep and hasn’t represented his country since 2016

Now 30, Markovic spent three seasons back in his native Serbia with his boyhood club before joining Turkish side Gaziantep where he netted three goals in 28 appearances last season.

Markovic’s last appearance for his country came back in 2016, and it doesn’t appear he will be adding to his 22 caps given the depth of talent in Dragan Stojkovic’s side. 

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