Liverpool misfit Lazar Markovic reveals why Anderlecht deal fell through

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Outcast at Anfield: Lazar Markovic.

Liverpool misfit Lazar Markovic has rejected suggestions his last-minute deadline day move to Anderlecht fell through because of money.

The Serbia international, who has not played for the Reds since May 2015, travelled to Belgium after a cut-price £2.9million fee was agreed for him to return the club at which he spent the second half of last season on loan.

However, despite a three-year contract being offered, the move collapsed and led to Anderlecht’s manager Hein Vanhaezebrouck claiming it was the player’s fault.

“Our president and sports director did everything to convince Markovic,” he told Belgian media.

“They waited until Liverpool lowered the price. They almost did a crazy effort for the player, but it wasn’t enough. It’s his own fault that the deal fell through.”

But 24-year-old Markovic, who has also had unremarkable loan spells at Fenerbahce, Sporting Lisbon, Hull and is out of contract next summer, hit back.

“Thank you for making such a great effort for trying to get me back in the club. However, money was not the issue !!!!! Good luck in the future @rscanderlecht,” he wrote on Twitter.

Markovic has once again not been included in Liverpool’s Premier League squad and has no chance of playing under manager Jurgen Klopp so faces another four months in the wilderness, with even playing for the under-23s unlikely, until the window reopens in January.

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Jurgen Klopp praises his Liverpool 'General' as Jordan Henderson inks new five-year-deal

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Jordan Henderson signs his new five-year-deal

Manager Jurgen Klopp believes Jordan Henderson is the embodiment of a Liverpool player after his captain committed himself to the club for the peak years of his career.

The Reds boss praised his “General” and is convinced the 28-year-old can still get even better over the course of what, Press Association Sport understands, is a five-year contract.

“It is fantastic news but should not be a surprise to anyone – he is perfect for us and we for him, I think,” Klopp told liverpoolfc.com.

“Jordan embodies entirely what it means to be a Liverpool player in this modern era of football.

“You can tell through his actions on and off the pitch he treats representing our badge and our shirt as a privilege.

“He takes nothing for granted and strives to learn and be better for his team at all times.

“He carries a lot on his shoulders that people on the outside won’t see, but he embraces that responsibility and that leadership. He is our ‘General’ and I trust him completely.”

Henderson made his first start of the season in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Leicester which ensured Liverpool’s best opening to a campaign since 1990-91.

He had previously been restricted to three substitute appearances but that was no reflection of his standing within the team – and more to do with easing him back after his extended involvement in England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals.

“The best thing is, I think – in fact, I know – he will get even better in these coming years. And this improvement will come from a very high base already,” added Klopp.

“Jordan is so important to us and we are very fortunate as a club to have this person commit to us as he has.

“For Jordan and his wonderful young family, I am really pleased they now know they are part of our Liverpool family for an even longer time.”

Henderson moved to Anfield in the summer of 2011, assuming the role of captain from Steven Gerrard in 2015, and has made 283 appearances.

“It doesn’t seem like too long ago when I signed my first one – it feels like yesterday, really – but a lot has happened since then,” Henderson said.

“I feel it’s been a progressive journey for me throughout my time here and one I’ve enjoyed so much.

“There is no other place in the world I would rather play football. I want to be here for as long as I can be.

“I’m so privileged to have been a part of this club for so long, and hopefully even longer now.”

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Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool discover the magic one per cent between success and failure

Alex Broun 1/09/2018
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Jurgen Klopp's team have improved on and off the field

What a difference a year can make – plus the small matter of £170 million.

Last year after four rounds Liverpool sat in eighth place with two wins, one draw and a 5-0 hammering from Manchester City for an average record of seven points, eight goals scored and eight conceded.

This year it has been a very different story.

Liverpool have won their first four matches in the Premier League for the first time ever – and first time in the top division since 1990.

They have a perfect record of 12 points, scored nine goals and conceded just one – it would be zero if not for some Alisson hijinks that led to the Reds conceding their first goal of the season at Leicester.

But drill down and what are the differences between the up-and-down Liverpool of 2017/18 and the current crop that look like (at this early stage) title contenders.

New signings? Yes, but not as much as you might think.

From the team that started against City in round four last year to the team that took the field against Leicester this season there are five personnel changes, but only one of those came in during the most recent transfer window – goalkeeper Alisson.

The other changes were Andrew Robertson for Alberto Moreno (who was an unused sub), Joe Gomez for Ragnar Klavan (now at Cagliari), Virgil van Dijk for Joel Matip (who was a late sub) and James Milner for Emre Can (now at Juventus).

The front five was exactly the same – Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Jordan Henderson (preferred over Naby Keita) and Gini Wijnaldum.

The subs against the Citizens were Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (injured), Dominic Solanke (not in the 18) and Milner.

Against Leicester they were Keita, another new signing Xherdan Shaqiri and Matip.

So yes there is difference in personnel but only Alisson and Keita have featured regularly so far this term of the summer signings. Shaqiri made his first appearance against Leicester and Fabinho is yet to be included in a matchday squad.

So it is not just the new signings at Anfield that are making the difference.

At the start of Klopp’s third full season it seems his side are further adapting to his style of play and the German is clearly more tactically astute, adapting to the English game.

In terms of key indicators there are two marked differences from season 2017/18 to 2018/19 – possession and passing accuracy.

Liverpool’s possession in 2017/18 was just 52.32 per cent after four games, while in 2018/19 it is an impressive 61.65 – this after Leicester edged the possession stakes 51.2 to 48.8 per cent.

But the reason for this is not better defending or more pressure in midfield – there are only slightly more tackles (81-78) and interceptions are way down (37-47).

The reason is more accurate passing, improving from a wayward 79.25 per cent last season to a precise 86.25 this term.

Part of the reason for this might be better running off the ball, to get into space for the pass, but an additional factor is the players’ greater understanding of what Klopp wants to achieve.

Alisson also makes a big difference here.

At this point he has only made two more saves than Simon Mignolet/Loris Karius last term but his distribution is markedly better – 85.25 per cent pass accuracy for the Brazilian while Migonlet and Karius had a pass accuracy of just 62.5 per cent.

The boost in confidence, and more accurate distribution, that Alisson has provided has clearly made a big difference to Liverpool defensively – even with the slight jolt the former Roma man gave during the Leicester match when he dallied in the box, allowing Kelechi Iheanacho to steal the ball leading to Rachid Ghezzal’s goal.

Klopp must also personally take some credit for the turnaround, and not just for his work in the transfer market.

He is far more settled tactically this season and knows exactly what he wants, and the players and combinations best placed to deliver that.

This is confirmed by the fact that this year he has made just one change to his starting XI in the first four weeks – Henderson starting instead of Keita at the King Power Stadium.

By this point last year he had made 13.

His substitutions have also improved. Last year they were often too late in matches and seemed to have little effect.

This season they have come on earlier and to greater results. A perfect example of this was him opting for Shaqiri rather than the usual Daniel Sturridge option off the bench against Leicester.

By bringing on the Swiss attacker and pushing him down the right wing it forced the dangerous Ben Chilwell to stay back for Leicester, nullifying their threat on that flank, and also permitting Trent Alexander-Arnold to bomb forward.

This meant Leicester were far less of a threat in the final 10 minutes and allowed Liverpool to hold on for the win.

It’s often said that the difference between a good and a great team is just one per cent.

It’s early days in the season with just over one tenth of matches played, but for now Klopp and his Reds seem to have found that one per cent.

How far that will take them we will have to wait and see.

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