When the summer began, along with it began speculation on Lazar Markovic's immediate future. We were in the frame to sign the young Serbian but Benfica entered the picture shortly. Yesterday, there were reports of Markovic being sighted in Benfica, supposedly there for a medical, implying that the Portuguese side had won the race for his signature.
Today, thanks to the President of Partizan Belgrade, we've found out that while Markovic is indeed 'signing' for Benfica, it isn't exactly what it was earlier being made out to be. Turns out the medical Lazar arrived for yesterday was simply one of many final steps before wrapping up a loan move. But Partizan didn't loan him there. We did.
Here's club President Dragan Djuric (who has alliteration in his name, which I like very much):
"It is true, Chelsea will send Markovic out on a loan for two years,
But I really hope that Chelsea and Benfica will not come to an agreement so Markovic will stay with us for at least the next six months."
Good news, I suppose. Markovic is a talent we've had our eye on for a while, and between the player himself touring the Chelsea facilities earlier this year, and Partizan acknowledging they'd noted the presence of Chelsea scouts watching him before, I think we all expected Chelsea to wrap up a deal for him sooner rather than later, and so a few could be forgiven for thinking he'd slipped out of our hands after what was reported yesterday.
The article also mentions another quote, unfortunately perhaps not on record where Djuric states that Chelsea 'already own' Markovic, hinting at a deal which might've been struck a while before the transfer window officially opened, an occurrence that wouldn't be rare or completely unexpected, particularly in the case of big clubs' interest in precocious young talent.
Anyway, the Serbian international seems ours now, and will be spending his next couple of seasons playing at the Estadio da Luz in a league that is a definite step-up from Belgium or Netherlands where we've similarly sent our youngsters the last couple of seasons. The fact that he's been sent to a more competitive league and team would suggest the club see a possibly higher potential in him, possible even believe in his ability to unearth it quicker, so that's always a great sign.
If you believe Wikipedia (among a couple of other obscure resources), it'd seem Markovic's also already been assigned a squad number, as it says he'll be turning out for the Portuguese side with #50 on his back. Good luck LAZAR SHARKOVIC!