Lazar Marković is a product of Partizan Belgrade’s football academy, one that produced couple of very interesting players in recent years – Stevan Jovetić, Adem Ljajić, Matija Nastasić and Miralem Sulejmani are perhaps the most notable. He’s on the radar of big European clubs for two seasons now – he basically was monitored by big clubs even before he started playing for Partizan’s senior team.
Marković debuted for Partizan in May 2011 against Sloboda. Since then, he has played another 40 games for Partizan and debuted for the Serbian national team for which he now has 6 caps and 1 goal. Reports in Serbia are suggesting for some time now, that Marković will join Chelsea in the summer.
Lazar Marković was born on March 2nd 1994 in Čačak. He started his career at the local club, Borac, but joined Partizan at the age of 12. As already mentioned, his debut came near the finish of 2010/2011 season, on May 29 against Sloboda Užice. Less then two months later, Marković signed his first professional contract with Partizan, until 2016. He played in Champions League qualifications that summer against Macedonian team Shkendija. His first goal as professional came in August against Novi Pazar.
His international debut came half a year later, against Armenia in a friendly match, only few days before his 18th birthday, and in November of 2012 he scored his first goal for Serbia against Chile
He is often compared to Jovetić and Ljajić, simply because he’s the offensive player that comes from the same club as them. However, both of them (especially Jovetić) are superior to him both in terms of technique and tactics, at least for now.
In his first season for Partizan, Marković scored 6 goals in the national league and had as many assists. He has the same amount of goals and assists so far this season. He is, without a doubt,Partizan’s best player and the best player of the Serbian league at the moment.
To start off- he’s really quick. One of the fastest players that has played in Serbian league in the last few years. Granted, that’s not saying much, since football in Serbia, and other ex Yugoslavian countries, is generally slow – so slow, football fans often say it’s “like normal European football, only in slow motion”. Marković, however, is very quick and that is a great danger to opponents especially if they leave him any space. A Europa League game against Inter in Milan showed that, his few counter attacking runs left Inter’s defense confused. He is fast with the ball, but is most dangerous when given the ball in space.
He is, however, not very strong physically. He is 175 centimetres tall and weights around 65 kg, so he is not someone who will win a lot of direct duels, but he is more than able to avoid those thanks to his speed.
About his position, that’s something that is still a bit of an unknown. He played as right and left midfielder, he was a trequartista, sometimes a second striker, or on the right side of a 3-man attack. You’d think that’s a great thing, that it means he is versatile – it is, to a point, but it’s mostly a problem. Coaches cannot seem to find the perfect place on the pitch for him, so they’ve tried him almost on every attacking position. There is always the danger for players like him to lose themselves and never fulfill their potential – just think of Giovanni Dos Santos. They are not the same type of players, but have similar problems in that regard, and they are tactically not at the level they need to be if they are to become great players. A played needs to find a suitable position at a young age and establish himself in that position. He should know the position in & out, and this makes him tactically adept as well. Playing a footballer in various positions will only be detrimental to his overall career.
His development might depend a lot on who the next Chelsea coach is (provided that his transfer to Chelsea is going to happen, like it seems) and how much he believes in Marković.
If we had to say what the position he enjoys the most is, it would probably be behind the striker. He loves using the space between the lines – not so much using the through balls in central parts of the pitch, but mostly on the right. He often runs at defenders and tries to beat them and drags central defenders to the right, creating space for insertion of midfielders in the danger zone centrally.
Considering how often he finds himself in front of the goal he should be scoring more. One of his biggest qualities is how often he’s having chances to score, but similarl to Ljajić- Marković too isn’t a great finisher. To say he often misses big chances would probably be too harsh, but there is definitely room for improvement in that area of his game.
He also has very good ball control ability, especially when running at high speed. When it comes to dribbling, though, he isn’t among the best. But even despite that, he is really tough to guard and will cause problems to almost any defense if given any sort of space.
As mentioned more than once, Chelsea is the most probable next destination for Lazar Marković. At not so low a price (around 8-10 million) a lot will be expected of him. It is questionable whether a big club with such a great ambition as Chelsea will have patience for a kid who is still far away from being a complete, mature player. It would perhaps have been better for him to go to some smaller team and even some less competitive league, to improve tactically and to gain self confidence. Perhaps Holland would be a great place for him, as it already was for Kežman, Sulejmani (at least before his clash with De Boer), Tadić or Đuričić. Or Italy, where players almost inevitably improve tactically very soon. We will see if Chelsea will give him on loan somewhere at first. Lazar Markovic certainly has potential to succeed at the highest level, but he’s got a lot of ground to cover before he fulfills it.
Featured image via semprienter.com