Marseille midfielder Maxime Lopez has claimed Liverpool made an approached to make him Philippe Coutinho‘s long-term successor.
The 19-year-old was subject of reported interest from the Reds at the end of 2016, with Arsenal also pursuing the Ligue 1 side’s breakthrough star.
Lopez has scored once and assisted seven goals in 26 games for Marseille so far this season, and typically operates in a creative role in central midfield.
And speaking to French publication L’Equipe, Lopez claimed Liverpool had made an offer, with the incentive of taking over from Coutinho in the future.
“They said to me: ‘In five years you get Coutinho’s place!’,” he is quoted.
“They approached me in a good way. I even met Steven Gerrard at the stadium after a game.
“I wanted to go there, but also to stay at Marseille. To go like that, at this age and even with your family, is very hard.
“I had noticed that they had 30 young professional players, not to mention the [youth players]. You really have to be mentally prepared.”
Lopez has since signed a new long-term contract with Marseille, however, tying him down until the end of the 2020/21 campaign, with club president Jacques-Henri Eyraud hailing the importance of this move.
“Maxime Lopez’s extension is a strong symbol for all of us,” Eyraud explained.
“He is a young, talented player who is very appreciated by the fans, and to whom we want to give a chance to develop into a man at the foundation of our sporting project.
“Beyond that, the message we want to send to the young Marseille players is that everything is possible with Marseille.”
Marseille are currently fifth in Ligue 1, but way off the pace in the fight for Champions League football, 18 points behind third-placed Nice.
They have been something of a selling club in recent years, and whether Lopez’s contract serves as a commitment to Marseille, or a means of boosting his value ahead of a possible summer switch, remains to be seen.
At the beginning of 2016, Michy Batshuayi signed a new four-year contract with the club, before joining Chelsea for £33 million six months later.