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  • 'Markovic? He's an extraordinary talent'
    'Markovic? He's an extraordinary talent' Frontier
    Frontier on Saturday, July 19, 2014
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    Sports [371]
    Liverpool have signed 'an extraordinary talent' in Lazar Markovic, according to a man who watched his Benfica displays with a vested interest week in, week out last season.

    Football journalist Luis Pedro Ferreira spent many afternoons throughout 2013-14 at the Estadio Da Luz watching the Reds' new signing in awe while penning match reports on The Eagles' fortunes.

    Despite spending just one season at Benfica, the Maisfutebol.pt reporter believes he's seen enough to suggest Markovic has all the attributes to become a star at Anfield.

    What kind of player have Liverpool just bought?

    An extraordinary talent. The first thing one notices is his speed. The way he carries the ball is quite impressive and really sets him apart, with his head held high and quality in decision making. He's very, very quick with the ball, something I haven't seen since Di Maria played for Benfica - but Markovic is probably even faster. That's his main weapon.

    And then, of course, there's his passing quality, due to his good decision making, and in front of goal. He doesn't shoot from distance - he rarely tries to score from outside of the penalty box. But he finishes very well, sometimes with finesse, when he's one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

    Playing as a winger, one could expect a lot of crosses; however, Markovic rarely crosses the ball - he rarely needed to at Benfica, I must say - because he's not a traditional winger that's always trying to get to the line. His favourite move is coming from the touchline to the inside and he's so, so good playing between the defensive lines, where he usually makes a difference. I think he made huge progress there.

    He stopped resolving things by himself and understood what the team needed. When he arrived, he gave away possession a little bit too easily because he used to get the ball and try to solve things by himself. But then he grew up; he was intelligent enough to realise that he didn't have to carry the ball every time, to run with it in every single moment. He could make a simple pass, constructing the offensive, and receive the ball a few moments afterwards in a better position.

    All of this is also true regarding his defensive game. When pressing high, his speed is a danger to opponents. If an opponent gets distracted, he's so quick that it will get them into trouble. He learned how to close down and to sacrifice himself for the team too. He matured in tactical terms, no doubt about that.

    How did he perform for Benfica last season?

    Very well. We had seen glimpses of his talent during pre-season, but we also saw that his game was raw in tactical terms. His first incredible moment - and he had quite a few - was in Lisbon's derby against Sporting.

    He had already scored against Gil Vicente a week earlier but people realised he was really special when he scored at Alvalade. The way he carried the ball through defenders was absolutely stunning.

    In that same game, Eduardo Salvio got a knee ligament injury. Salvio was Benfica's first choice to play on the right wing but this gave Markovic the opportunity to become a regular. He got minutes, he learned, he progressed and was one of the most influential players in the team. His speed changed Benfica into a dangerous team when counter-attacking and a solid one defending.
                               
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