Liverpool's chief scout was present to run the rule over Benfica ace Lazar Markovic last week - with the club set to enter the race for his signature alongside Chelsea.

According to the Daily Mail, chief scout Barry Hunter watched the Serbian international in action for his country in their 2-1 win over the Republic of Ireland in Dublin last week.

Should Liverpool decide to cement their interest in the 20-year-old they would have to fend off some serious competition from rivals Chelsea.

The Blues are said to have the first-option on the midfielder following their deal with Benfica to sign Nemanja Matic in January, having tracked him over the past few seasons.

They would have to pay £12.5 million to take him to Stamford Bridge - but the Mail say that Liverpool aren't out of the running just yet.

The paper reports that Chelsea feel as though they are already well-stocked in midfield so haven't earmarked Markovic as a priority, meaning Liverpool may be able to swoop.

Markovic is more adept as a wide player who cuts inside, and could fill the hole in Brendan Rodgers' squad when loan flop Victor Moses returns to Chelsea at the end of the season.

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