Sydney FC are set to complete the signing of former Liverpool flop Lazar Markovic as Steve Corica looks to reshape his squad ahead of next season.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the 28-year-old could fill the void left by fellow Serbian Milos Ninkovic and Kosta Barbarouses after the former controversially joined Western Sydney Wanderers and the latter returned to Wellington Phoenix.
Markovic arrived at Anfield to much fanfare from Portuguese club Benfica in the summer of 2014 for $35million, with the Reds beating the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham, Bayern Munich and Fiorentina to his signature.
The winger, however, never lived up to his potential with the Reds and left the club as a free agent in January 2019 before signing for Fulham.
Markovic made 34 appearances – 23 of which were starts – in all competitions for Liverpool in his debut season in England, but spent the following four seasons on loan at four different clubs.
It was a dramatic fall from grace for a player who had been compared to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi ahead of his arrival at Anfield by former Chelsea manager Avram Grant.
‘I can say that apart from [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi, Markovic is one of the best talents I’ve ever seen at 19 years of age,’ Grant, who coached Markovic at Partizan Belgrade, said in 2014.
‘It was excellent playing with this kid for six months. He has such massive potential that if he changed his attitude in training he could be one of Europe’s best players in his position.
‘He’s young, he’ll mature, and then nobody will be able to stop him.’
His spell at Craven Cottage was similarly unsuccessful, with Markovic making one Premier League appearance in four months before returning to Serbia as he signed for Partizan Belgrade three years ago.
The 28-year-old enjoyed a renaissance of sort back in his home country, scoring 20 goals in 89 games in all competitions over the past three seasons.
The Sky Blues, meanwhile, are understood to have pulled out of negotiations to sign former Napoli star Dries Mertens but remain in the hunt for a big name coup ahead of their move into the new Allianz Stadium.
A big name could follow Markovic through the door, with the Serbian international set to be classified as a ‘designated player’, rather than a ‘marquee player’.
A-League clubs are now allowed to sign two marquee players and two designated players. The salaries of all four players will sit outside the salary cap, but in the case of the designated players they have to be under $600,000-a-year.