LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SUNDAY, APRIL 9th, 2006: The Paisley Gateway outside the Spion Kop at Liverpool Football Club's Anfield home. The gates are a tribute to the most successful manager in English football history, Bob Paisley OBE, who managed the Merseyside club from 1974-1983. (Pic by Dan Istitene/Propaganda)

The lowdown on Liverpool target Maxime Lopez

Marseille’s 16-year-old “wonderkid” Maxime Lopez was linked with a move to Liverpool last week. Scott Taylor (@ScottTaylorUK) provides the lowdown on the prodigy.

Maxime Lopez is a name not many Liverpool fans would have heard of until various newspapers ran a story linking him with a move to Anfield last week.

Aged just 16, it is clear that if Liverpool were to sign Lopez, then he will definitely be one for the future and he has just the right manager in the form of Brendan Rodgers who takes passion in player development, should he sign for the Merseyside giants.

Lopez is a product of the Marseille academy and even though he is just 16, he is regularly playing for Marseille’s Under 19 side.

His main position is as an attacking midfielder where he offers creativity and goals – as shown when he scored against the Champions League runners-up Borussia Dortmund and provided an assist for Marseille in their win against Italian side Napoli in the UEFA Youth League.

Lopez is currently playing against players up to 3 years older than him. Although this is not as rare in modern football, with the likes of Jordan Rossiter and Pedro Chirivella playing with players up to 5 years older than them, it is still a valuable experience when looking to the future.

However, unlike Rossiter and Chirivella, Lopez is proven at the highest level since Marseille Under 19s are in the UEFA Youth League, the 16 year old often plays against teams such as Dortmund, Napoli and Arsenal. It is impressive to play against older players, but even more impressive to play against top players who are up to 3 years older than the Marseille man.

With Liverpool more than likely to qualify for the Champions League next season, meaning that Liverpool’s Under 19s will have the chance to play in this UEFA Youth League, so if Lopez was to move to Merseyside, he would still be playing at the highest level possible.

Many French pundits are comparing him to current Marseille midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, because of his technical ability and his attitude to succeed both on and off the field. He has been quoted as a player that ‘will improve certain skills off the field in order to apply them on the field’.

This is the type of attitude that Rodgers respects and admires in young players and as a result, Lopez was invited to Anfield to watch Liverpool and learn the style of play that Rodgers applies and how he can learn from this. Fortunately for Liverpool, he was invited to watch the Merseyside Derby. Given The Reds’ performance on the night, it could be easy to convince Lopez to join the club.

Although his current club Marseille want him to stay with the Ligue 1 side and come through the ranks just as players like Samir Nasri and Andre Ayew have done, it will be very difficult to hold onto this starlet as competition for his signature increases. Fortunately for Liverpool, Lopez cannot sign a professional contract until he turns 17 years of age, which will be in December 2014, so he is more or less available on a free contract.

Liverpool have done this twice already this season, snatching Sergi Canos away from Barcelona and Pedro Chirivella away from Valencia before they could both sign professional contracts and I for one hope that they repeat this for Maxime Lopez.

You can read more from Scott at his blog.

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