Thiago Maia: Five things on Liverpool, PSG, Juventus and Chelsea target

ESPN Brasil recently reported that Liverpool are one of a number of European clubs chasing the signature of Santos midfielder Thiago Maia. The 19-year-old has been a regular for the Brazilian side over the last 18 months and it seems he could now be set for a January move.

Here are five things you need to know about the talented youngster ...

He's the pride of his home state

Thiago Maia hails from Roraima, Brazil's northernmost and least populated state. His talent for football was clear from an early age but faced with a lack of opportunities in his home city of Boa Vista, he and his mother decided to move south to Sao Paulo when he was 13.

Their early days there were not easy. They struggled for money and his mother was sometimes forced to make a decision between providing him with an evening meal or saving the money to pay for his bus to training the following day. But those sacrifices paid off as he rose quickly through the ranks at Santos before making his debut at the age of 17 in 2014.

This summer, after a year as a regular in the Santos first team, he was called up to Brazil's squad for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He became the first athlete from Roraima to represent Brazil at the Olympics and when the team won Gold, consequently the first athlete from the state to win an Olympic medal.

And he has not forgotten his roots. He regularly returns to Boa Vista to visit friends and family -- "It's where I recharge my batteries," he told Folha earlier this year -- and dedicated some time to social projects upon his return to his home city at the end of the Brazilian Championship earlier this month.

He's had a great 2016

Thiago Maia has enjoyed a very successful 2016.

At club level, he formed a well-balanced partnership with the experienced former Sevilla midfielder Renato in the Santos side that claimed the Sao Paulo State Championship in May and then finished second behind champions Palmeiras in the national championship, Serie A, in the second half of the year.

And for the national team (whom he had previously represented at Under-17 and U20 level), he was the youngest member of the squad that finally secured the country its first Gold medal in Olympic football at the summer games in Rio de Janeiro. His only two starts came in the disappointing group stage draws with Iraq and South Africa but he made enough of an impression in those games to further attract the attention of European scouts.

He's a central midfielder with great promise

Thiago Maia is a solidly built central midfielder capable of screening well in front of the defence but also of moving forward to link neatly with teammates further upfield. He passes crisply, shields the ball well and possesses a fairly powerful burst of acceleration.

But he is still young and it is perhaps understandable he still has matches in which he struggles to impose himself. He also rarely offers much of a goal threat, as a record of just two goals in 90 appearances for Santos in all competitions attests.

There is, though, clearly an enticing physical and technical skill-set there that with further development and coaching could make him a very useful player in Europe.

He has an Argentinian role model

Strangely for a Brazilian, Thiago Maia admitted earlier this year that his idol is the Argentinian international Javier Mascherano. In another interview, he added his current teammates Renato and Ricardo Oliveira to his list of career reference points.

Big clubs are circling, but his mum will have the final say

Liverpool are certainly not the only European club to have shown an interest in the 19-year-old. Paris Saint-Germain (where his good friend Marquinhos plays), Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and Juventus have all been linked in the past, while the most recent reports suggest that Napoli, Monaco and Schalke are also keen to bring him on board in January. He recently turned down a €18 million move to Zenit Saint-Petersburg.

But he is content to let those he trusts most make the decision about his next destination.

"I leave my future in the hands of my mother and my agent," he explained.