Chelsea’s Markovic Option : Why Letting Him Go Makes Sense?

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Updated: July 8, 2014

Chelsea, in recent seasons, have made a habit of trolling their rivals. Be it snatching Willian away after he completed a medical at Tottenham, or swooping in for Mohamed Salah after a deal was almost reached with Liverpool for his transfer, Chelsea love rubbing their rivals’ noses in. Even the Fabregas signing left a bitter taste in the mouth of the Gunners, who love their former captain, and Manchester United, who have been vying for him over the past few windows. So, the set is complete, except for Manchester City, who once broke our goddamned hearts trolled us by signing Robinho from Real Madrid. Look how that turned out, ha ! I’ve heard that they’re looking at Paul Pogba these days, so let’s settle the score, if you know what I mean. (PLEASE CHELSEA PLEASE GET ME MY POGBA !)

For a club with such an illustrious history of trolling, it comes as a surprise that they’re letting go of their option to troll a rival again. Liverpool again, this time. With the player in question this time being Lazar Markovic, a Benfica attacking midfielder. Chelsea have been Markovic’s keen admirers for a while now. When the Serbian international was still a Partizan Belgrade player, rumors bringing him to Chelsea were high in intensity. So much, that at a certain point, Partizan president Dragan Duric publicly stated Markovic to Chelsea as a done deal. Then, there were rumors that Chelsea would loan him out to Benfica, the other club fighting for his signature, in order for him to continue his development. But then, out of nowhere, Benfica announced the signing of Markovic on a permanent deal. Chelsea were suspected to have played a part in the deal, but what, no one quite knew.

That was until, Graham MacAree of our beloved WAGNH got this piece through. To sum it up for you, Chelsea, Benfica and Partizan Belgrade were involved in some sort of a weird three-way deal for Markovic. Markovic was to go to Benfica, but with the Eagles only owning 50% of the player. The remaining 50% was owned by a fund. Chelsea’s perks of this deal were that, they could buy Markovic for 15M Euros from Benfica, whenever the club felt he was ready for the step up. But the winger could still move to other clubs at higher fees if Chelsea refuse to enforce their option. For a player of his talents, the usual big names weren’t far away.

The promising winger was linked extensively to Liverpool in this transfer window, as a replacement for Luis Suarez, with reports coming out that the deal was all but done. And to clarify on the Chelsea front, Duncan Castles reported that Chelsea would not be electing to activate their clause.

While Chelsea held an option to buy Markovic from Benfica and his third-party owners for a total consideration of €15M, the London club elected not to activate it. Chelsea’s scouting section had filed mixed reports on Markovic this year, and a forward of the Serb’s experience was not considered a priority in Jose Mourinho’s restructuring plans this summer.

-Duncan Castles

So, why would Chelsea pass up on such an exciting youngster with such a promising future? There is no doubting that Markovic’s potential upside is so impressive that the 25M Euros Liverpool are, reportedly, forking out for him would look a bargain in a few years. But what is making Chelsea reluctant to commit the 15M Euros is the presence of another former Liverpool target, Mohamed Salah.

Bought from FC Basel for a sum rumored to be near 11M Euros, Salah impressed all with his runs and movements, but showed how raw he was with his poor passing and nigh Torresian finishing. But what extra he provides that the other wingers already at Chelsea don’t is the fact that he is the only true left-footed winger in the ranks. That provides an option to use inverted wingers on both flanks against teams that park the bus. With some polishing, Salah could very well become like Hulk, or perhaps even more effective. Comparing his basic stats with those of Markovic gives us an impression of how similar both players are :

Basic_Stats

While stockpiling youngsters is actually a great idea in this current FFP era, Chelsea already have a greater-than-manageable pile of promising attacking midfielders and wingers coming through. Therefore, Chelsea can afford to let Markovic go, though sadly, and lean back to other options. Mohamed Salah is in line to have a breakthrough season and so does Schurrle, and to expect both to play a major role in Chelsea’s push towards Premier League glory wouldn’t be expecting too much. Hence, Chelsea letting go of Markovic seems to be a rather sensible option, unless it comes to backfire upon us rather spectacularly. Sorry Lazar that we couldn’t get you in our kit, but wish you all the best at Liverpool.

Stats courtesy WhoScored.com

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