Jurgen Klopp insists that Lazar Markovic can still make the grade at Liverpool. The Serbian international recently joined relegation battlers Hull City on loan until the end of the season and quickly spoke of his desire to prove a point in the Premier League after being dispatched for consecutive stints overseas.
Many Liverpool supporters had written Markovic off after he largely failed to impress under Brendan Rodgers following a £20m ($25m) move from Benfica in the summer of 2014. After a promising spell at Fenerbahce was curtailed by a hamstring injury, the former Partizan Belgrade winger reported back to England for pre-season training last summer before joining Jorge Jesus' Sporting Lisbon on a season-long deal that was prematurely terminated after just 14 appearances.
Markovic's poor form and lack of impact at the Estadio Jose Alvalade will hardly have boosted his chances of being welcomed back into the Liverpool fold, although, at 22 and under contract until 2019, he still has time left to demonstrate his worth.
"He still has a contract," Klopp was quoted as saying by Sky Sports at a press conference held prior to Saturday's (28 January) FA Cup fourth round tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers. "Why should I say 'no chance?'
"When he plays very well against us, then I say no future at Liverpool. But if he plays against the other teams very well then he has a chance. If he can stay fit and help Hull then it's easier for us to look at how he's doing. He's still a young boy. He has struggled with injuries. Yes, he has a future."
Another player whose Anfield future currently appears to hang in the balance is Daniel Sturridge. The injury-plagued striker has scored just six goals across all competitions so far this term and wasted several chances on Wednesday as Liverpool saw their latest Wembley ambitions crushed courtesy of a 2-0 EFL Cup semi-final aggregate defeat to Southampton. The 27-year-old has now failed to find the net in each of his last five matches, yet Klopp is not concerned.
"I thought after Southampton it was a good game for Daniel Sturridge," he said. "Usually, and it's not about speed, Daniel scores twice. But he is a human being and he missed the chances. Of course longer injuries can have an impact. Ask a sprinter. If you get a few injuries maybe it takes time, but it's not lost forever. Daniel is the best age for a football player. If he can stay fit everything will be fine."
Liverpool's only transfer business so far this month has concerned outgoings, with Tiago Ilori joining Reading, Joe Maguire and and Cameron Brannagan heading to Fleetwood Town, Pedro Chirivella signing for Go Ahead Eagles and Markovic swapping Portugal for Yorkshire. Only four days remain until the January window closes and, and while Klopp is not ruling out any late drama, he acknowledges that any incomings are now unlikely.
"If you want I can say yes and you can put Liverpool on your screen but it's unlikely. That's life, eh? It's always possible. Maybe."