Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Chelsea reportedly considering move for Benfica midfielder Lazar Markovic


Chelsea will be watching Tottenham's Europa League tie with Benfica closely on Thursday as they reportedly consider a move for the Portuguese side's midfielder Lazar Markovic.

The London club were said to be monitoring the player before he joined Benfica from Partizan Belgrade last summer and according to The Evening Standard they managed to secure a first optiom on signing Markovic in the future.

The 20-year-old has a release clause in his five-year contract worth in excess of £33million but Chelsea would have to pay just £12.5m.

Markovic is rated as one of the best young players in Europe and has also attracted interest from Liverpool.

The attacking midfielder can play on either flank or behind the main striker but is still developing as a player. It is understood he plans to stay at Benfica for at least one more season before considering moving on.

Chelsea have strong ties with Benfica having signed Ramires and David Luiz from them while Nemanja Matic moved there from Stamford Bridge in 2011 and was bought back for £21m in January. The first leg of Benfica’s last-16 tie will give Chelsea an opportunity to see how his game has developed and whether he can make an impact in the Premier League.

Jose Mourinho already has a wealth of talent to choose from in the three positions behind the main striker so Markovic needs to impress.

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid have confirmed they will try to buy keeper Thibaut Courtois outright this summer or convince Chelsea to send him back for a fourth successive season on loan.

Chelsea have reportedly opened talks with Courtois’s agent over a new deal and his role at the club but an agreement depends on whether he will be promised first-team football, which is difficult with Petr Cech still in the squad.

Atletico president Enrique Cerezo said: “We’ll try to purchase him and if Chelsea don’t want to sell, we’ll look for another solution.”