In an era of global scouting systems and seemingly bottomless money pits, top talent will never fly under the radar for long.
Once a player starts to generate a buzz, regardless of where they may be playing at the time, the vultures will begin to circle and transfer talk will inevitably be sparked.
That is the way of the world, and those with the deepest pockets will invariably get what they want as they continue to cherry pick those considered to be deserving of a place on their books.
Among those to be flavour of the month during the current transfer window is Augsburg left-back Philipp Max, with his displays for a middling Bundesliga outfit having piqued interest elsewhere.
WHO IS PHILIPP MAX?
Born on September 30, 1993 in Viersen, some 60 kilometres outside of Gelsenkirchen, a young Max headed south to spend time with Bavarian rivals 1860 Munich and Bayern Munich prior to returning to his roots to link up with Schalke in 2010.
The son of former Germany international Martin Max, he opted against following in his father’s footsteps as a fearsome frontman and instead settled in the more understated surrounds of a left-back berth after being dropped deeper from a role on the wings.
Having benefitted from working in an academy system which helped to put Mesut Ozil and Julian Draxler on the path to superstardom, Max was handed his senior debut by Schalke in a Ruhr Valley derby date with Borussia Dortmund on March 25, 2014.
He was, however, to have to step down into the second tier with Karlsruher to find the regular football he craved, with an impressive one-season showing which almost resulted in promotion to the Bundesliga offering enough to Augsburg to convince them that they should bring him back into the top-flight as a replacement for Chelsea-bound Baba Rahman in the summer of 2015.
WHO WANTS HIM?
Just about every leading club in the Premier League, it would appear.
Manchester rivals City and United have been leading the hunt, with Pep Guardiola in the January market to find cover for the injured Benjamin Mendy while Jose Mourinho is still being linked with several options to fill a problematic position at Old Trafford.
Liverpool, who remain unconvinced by Alberto Moreno, are also said to have sent scouts to cast an eye over Max, and have been joined in that mission by Merseyside rivals Everton – with Sam Allardyce looking to put his own stamp on a squad inherited from Ronald Koeman.
Elsewhere, Chelsea are considering another raid on Augsburg – following a questionable £14 million gamble on Rahman – while Tottenham are also monitoring a developing situation closely as speculation continues to suggest that Danny Rose’s days in north London may be numbered.
WHY DO THEY WANT HIM?
Cast an eye over the leading assist-makers across Europe’s top five divisions and it will come as no surprise to find the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Neymar and Leroy Sane among the leading pack.
It may, however, come as a shock to find that Max – turning out for a side currently sat ninth in the Bundesliga – sits alongside them with nine goals created for grateful team-mates this season – a better return than the likes of Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, Philippe Coutinho and Thomas Muller.
He has also managed one effort himself, meaning that he has contributed significantly towards 10 of Augsburg’s 27 efforts in the Bundesliga to date.
Of the aforementioned assists, three have come from corners – highlighting his threat over a dead ball – while nobody in Germany can claim to have bettered his haul of 49 chances created or his tally of 181 crosses – of which 66 have found their intended target.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Max is under contract at Augsburg until 2022, but it is unlikely that he will see that deal out as his stock and valuation continues to rise.
Premier League suitors may be advised to act now, with it expected that his asking price will increase over the coming months as he continues to impress domestically and forces himself into contention for a place in Germany’s squad at the 2018 World Cup - having only previously represented his country at the 2016 Olympic Games.
If he is to stay put, then he will continue to chase down Emil Forsberg’s record haul of 22 assists for RB Leipzig set last season, while seeking to put himself in an even stronger position to follow the lead of his left-back idols.
Max admitted to Bild back in April 2014 that he has sought to model himself on Philipp Lahm and Ashley Cole – but the former only managed to reach double figures in terms of combined goals and assists on one occasion across his glorious career at Bayern, while the latter never came close to reaching those figures.
Bringing together the best attributes of both would now appear to be the challenge facing Max, and it could be that those skills are honed on a Premier League stage before too long.