In the last few days, the Serbian media have been claiming that the Partizan Belgrade wonderkid Lazar Markovic has agreed a pre-contract with Chelsea. These rumours have been around for a good few months without anything concrete happening, but the deal is now looking very likely to happen.
Markovic is a versatile 18-year-old forward that has been turning heads for a couple of years, and was last year named Serbian SuperLiga Player of the Year; no small feat for someone of his age. Markovic possesses pace, skill, flair and creativity in abundance, and has a reasonably good goal record. Assuming Chelsea stick to the 4-2-3-1 formation, Markovic would most likely slot in on one of the wings, but could feasibly play any of the 4 attacking roles. But this begs the question: with such a luxurious abundance of young attacking talent at Stamford Bridge, why on earth would Chelsea need him? And why would Markovic go to Chelsea?
The second question is the more easily answered one. Lazar Markovic is a self-proclaimed Chelsea fan, and his idol is Gianfranco Zola.
Fair enough, but this smells a lot like what happened to Romelu Lukaku. The Kraken was a teenage prodigy tearing up a not-so-elite league and had a possy of Europe’s top clubs scouting him. Lukaku was a Chelsea fan, and wanted to come to the Bridge. Sounds a lot like Markovic already.
We all got very excited over his signature, and thought that Jesus had finally returned on Lukaku’s arrival. Unfortunately for Romelu, he arrived at a time that Chelsea had huge strength in depth in his position. When he arrived, the Kraken was our 6th choice striker behind Torres, Drogba, Anelka, Sturridge and Kalou. Sad, but true. Markovic would most likely find himself in the same situation, unhappy due do a lack of playing time at the club he loved, and eventually pushed into the reserve team while making the occasional substitute appearance for the first team.
More happily, Romelu Lukaku is currently tearing it up at West Brom, scoring his 10th Premier League goal of the season yesterday evening and generally looking unstoppable aged 19. He looks a nailed-on certainty to be Chelsea’s main man in attack for the next 15-20 years, and one suspects he will only improve in that time. A happy ending for all parties, except our Premier League rivals.
Markovic does have a similarly sky-high potential to Lukaku, but has a significantly tougher pathway to the Chelsea first team. Beyond the holy trinity of Mazacar, there is Moses, Lampard, Marin, De Bruyne, Ramires, Piazon, Bertrand, Kakuta, Davila, Thorgan Hazard, Benayoun, Malouda, Cristian Cuevas, Boga, Feruz, Swift and Affane plus plenty more in the U21s and U18s. I make that 20 competitors for 3 places. The likes of Swift, Boga, Cuevas and Davila are a long way off the first team, but they all have the potential and are a similar age to Markovic.
So for the Markovic deal to be a success, Chelsea must learn from their mistakes and loan Markovic to a decent team in a reasonably competitive European league. Maybe Malaga, as part of a deal for Isco? Or Vitesse, as part of a deal for Bony. Wherever he will be, we must make sure he gets adequate minutes at a reasonably high level, and only then will he be able to join forces with The Mazacar and The Kraken.
Do you want Markovic, or would he be surplus to requirements? And where should he be, on loan or at the Bridge?