Recently Liverpool has had some great success in bringing through some talented young players. You only have to look at the squad that beat Arsenal 5-1 at the weekend to see the fruits of their youth system.
Jon Flanagan, Raheem Sterling, and Martin Kelly all featured in the match-day squad. Now it seems Brendan Rodgers has set his sights on 16-year-old French playmaker, Maxime Lopez, as the next star of the Liverpool academy.
Lopez currently plays for Olympique de Marseille’s Under 19 side, and impressed during this year’s UEFA Youth League – he scored one and set up two against Borussia Dortmund – impressing on looking scouts with his performance in London against Arsenal. There is little doubt that Lopez is the great hope of the current Marseille youth side, former coach Bernard Gregori gave his opinion on the player to OM fan site Le Phoceen.
“He is small, in the style of (Mathieu) Valbuena, very good technically, serious, always well dressed, works on his physicality off the field. He has huge qualities”.
Rodgers seems very serious in his plan to convince Lopez that joining Liverpool is the best option for the youngster, the player and his family were invited to watch the derby against Everton as guests of the manager, making it clear that Lopez had a future in the Liverpool bosses plans.
The player, who only turned 16 two months ago, has yet to decide anything, his brother plays for local side Consolat Marseille and has been targeted by clubs in Ligue 2. The club are clear that they want him to follow in the footsteps of Samir Nasri and Andre Ayew, and Lopez will know that young players with quality always get their chance at the Stade Velodrome. It is however difficult to turn down the approaches of a Premier League side.
Liverpool wouldn’t have to pay a transfer fee for the youngster, as he is part of the youth set-up he is not allowed to sign a professional contract at this time. Marseille would be able to recoup a fee for developing the player, but it would be nothing like the transfer fee they would receive should he continue to develop in the first-team.
It seems the decision will be made by the player’s parents said Gregori: “…he should have played in CFA (with the Marseille reserve team), but as we wanted to progress with the U19 side at all costs, he has been a bit restrained. At the end this will be a story about money… the parents will decide”.
Marseille seem powerless to stop the move if the player and his family decide to make the move to England. The club hope that he doesn’t remember the fate of former academy graduate Ahmed Yahiaoui. He was part of the France side that won the 2004 U17 European Championships; he was then targeted by Chelsea when he was 17. He didn’t make the move, failed to make the grade at Marseille and he now plays for MC Oran in Algeria.
For every Yahiaoui there is a Nasri, it is up to Lopez to decide what path he will choose to follow.