Liverpool have highlighted Borussia Monchengladbach's Mahmoud Dahoud as a key transfer target, but they face a battle to secure the signing of one of Europe's foremost talents.
Title-chasing Tottenham have also extensively scouted the 20-year-old, as have Jurgen Klopp's former side Borussia Dortmund.
Goal looks at why Dahoud is attracting such noteworthy attention...
THE STORY SO FAR...
Originating in Amuda, a town close to the Turkey border populated by a Kurdish majority, the midfielder is the first footballer born in Syria to play in the Bundesliga. In 1996, before he had celebrated his first birthday, Dahoud was taken to Germany by his family, who fled the oppressive Assad regime.
His education in the game began at Fortuna Dusseldorf academy, before he joined Gladbach’s youth set-up in 2010 at the age of 14. He was invited to train with the first-team squad by Swiss coach Lucien Favre three years later, and in August 2014 made his debut in a 7-0 battering of Sarajevo in a Europa League qualifier.
A serious thigh injured stifled the prospect’s progress though, and it is only in this campaign that he has become a regular and drawn in a series of scouts.
Andre Schubert, who replaced Favre in the Gladbach dugout, fast-tracked Dahoud’s advancement following Cristoph Kramer’s departure to Bayer Leverkusen and he has been repaid in kind. The dynamo has made 37 appearances this season, scoring four goals and assisting seven while possessing defensive bite and an accomplished passing range.
He has an incredible engine too, which is why high-intensity enthusiasts Klopp, Thomas Tuchel and Mauricio Pochettino are all interested in him.
Equally skilled in the short passing game and the art of switching the play with a direct ball, Dahoud is a treat in possession and works incredibly hard out of it. He excels between the lines and is an extremely clever link. He doesn’t simply feed incisive runs, he makes them too and has a belting strike on him. Dahoud is strong in the dribble and he enjoys defensive duties as much as dazzling, being both keen to tackle and smart at stealing the ball back.
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Manchester City will know all about the latter, as he made made 10 interceptions on his full Champions League debut against them. What are his weaknesses? According to his coach Schubert: “He's got a real engine and is a willing runner, but he has to be more efficient and learn to ease off at times and also recognise that he doesn’t always have to run. That will come with experience.”
Gladbach are unwilling sellers and while a fee touching £30million is often referenced in relation to the box-to-box player, it is believed that an offer closer to £25m could clinch a deal.
The contract Dahoud signed until 2018 is understood not to have a release clause, but the interest in him could encourage the Bundesliga side to push up any valuation in the summer.
WHAT HE SAYS
On his energetic playing style: "I need to move. If I stop, I feel like I am out of the game."
WHAT THEY SAY
Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl: ”Mahmoud is an exceptional player and we have no need to sell him," he said. "He will stay with us.”
Germany legend Lothar Matthaus: "Dahoud has a lot of potential. We all know that Gladbach nurture talents who can become world-class stars."