As sure as night follows day, as soon as Liverpool are credibly linked to any player from across the globe, I get asked on Twitter if I’m going to write a piece on them! Benfica’s Lazar Markovic is the latest such transfer target, so I’ve had a look at his form.
Except that unfortunately detailed stats from the Portuguese league appear to be rarer than credible transfer rumours on Twitter (though if you know otherwise, please let me know in the comments), so all I have been able to source via Stats Zone is six games in the 2012/13 Europa League for Partizan Belgrade, and five in this year’s Champions League for Benfica. The limited nature of the information means that this is just a gentle introduction to the Serbian, and by no means an in-depth analysis.
The first thing to note is that Markovic did not overly trouble opposition goalkeepers in these eleven games, as he failed to find the net, though he did at least put four of his nine shots on target (when an average performance would be three). Here’s a look at the creativity figures, compared to various Liverpool players and transfer targets from this season.
Although I always sort these tables by the rate with which the players created an expected assist, it’s worth noting that Markovic created a chance in the centre of the penalty box at essentially the same rate as Coutinho. This explains why he has the highest average chance quality of the players here; in other words, the opportunities he set up for his team mates had an 11.25% chance of being scored (on average). Markovic may not have created too often, but they were good chances when he did.
Lest we forget, six of the eleven games were for Partizan Belgrade (who are currently ranked the 157th best team in Europe, according to Euro Club Index) so it’s not really fair to compare his efforts to those of a Premier League title challenger either.
I’ll finish with a look at the dribbling stats, as from the limited data I could source they were definitely the most encouraging.
Markovic completed the joint-twelfth most dribbles in the 2012/13 Europa League, which helped him to second place on the above table, and look at how many of them were in-or-just-outside the opposition penalty box: 39% of his total, when nobody else on the chart can better 24%.
The Serbian international was able to glide past opponents regularly, and in dangerous positions to boot, and as Liverpool completed the second most dribbles in the 2013/14 Premier League, I’m sure we can expect to see plenty more of this from Markovic should he sign on the dotted line at Anfield.
As the chart below shows, eight of Markovic’s successful dribbles occurred in the San Siro against Inter Milan; bear in mind that top dribblers average between four and five per game, so to double that at one of European football’s true cathedrals is not to be ignored.
If he can continue this form and continue to find colleagues in the penalty box for goalscoring opportunities, then he could prove to be a fantastic asset for Liverpool. I just wish there was more data available to make this very brief analysis more robust; if you’d like to see a YouTube compilation, there’s one below too.