Marseille midfielder Maxime Lopez has told L'Equipe he rejected an offer from Liverpool, despite being told he would eventually replace Philippe Coutinho.
Lopez's performances for OM this season -- his first in senior professional football -- have drawn favourable comparisons with two other Marseille-born stars, Zinedine Zidane and Samir Nasri.
The 19-year-old could, however, have been wearing a Liverpool shirt had the Premier League club convinced him to move to Anfield before Marcelo Bielsa came to Marseille in 2014.
"They told me: 'In five years, you'll play in Coutinho's position.' They really sang my praises. I even met Steven Gerrard in the stadium after the match," Lopez said.
"I wanted to go there, but also to stay at OM. To leave like that, at that age even if my family would have gone too, it was very hard. I had noted that they had thirty-odd young professional players, not even counting the first team. You really have to be ready mentally."
Lopez has played just 21 league games for Marseille this term, but has already convinced the Ligue 1 side to extend his contract, agreeing an extra two years through to 2021 only last month.
Despite that, OM are likely to have to fend off a number of suitors for their homegrown teenage star with a host of clubs having been alerted to his talent, while Zidane himself is fully aware of Lopez's progress.
"He has always had exceptional natural talent for his age and size," the Real Madrid boss, whose family is close to Lopez's, told media recently. "It's really breathtaking what he does, not only at his age, because age nowadays means nothing, but it's above all the personality he has in his game.
"That is to say he's someone who runs a lot, but he plays a lot too, and makes others play as well. So, I'm not surprised."