Barcelona are said to have approached Maxime Lopez to sound out if the Olympique Marseille starlet would be willing to make a move to the Nou Camp in the near future. Liverpool and Real Madrid have also been linked with the 19-year-old in recent times but Mundo Deportivo says that the Catalans could have an advantage in a potential race due to the midfielder's admiration for Andres Iniesta.
The France Under-21 international is considered as one of the next big things to emerge from the prolific Marseille academy, having been likened to former Manchester City and Arsenal star Samir Nasri.
The talented midfielder only made his first-team debut in August 2016 but quickly turned into one of the revelations of the Ligue 1 during last season, scoring three goals and providing nine assists in 35 appearances.
Barcelona were one of the big clubs attracted by his impressive development and Mundo Deportivo says that in August two club officials travelled to France to meet with Lopez's agent in order to discuss a potential future move to the La Liga giants.
The Catalans' intent was reportedly not to sign Lopez during the recent summer transfer window but to monitor his future ahead of next season.
Barcelona made five signings during the recent transfer window in the form of Paulinho, Nelson Semedo, Gerard Deulofeu, Ousmane Dembele and Marlon Santos – with the latter having since joined Nice on a two season-loan deal.
They failed to secure the services of a playmaker like Lopez following their unsuccessful summer in which they attempted to sign Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho and Paris Saint-Germain ace Angel Di Maria.
Mundo Deportivo says that Barcelona will be closely monitoring Lopez's development in the coming months with hopes to be ahead of other European clubs in a hypothetical race to secure his services in the summer. Nevertheless, the Spanish publication points out that Zinedine Zidane is a big fan of his compatriot, with the Real Madrid boss last year being full of praise for French starlet during a press conference.
"[Lopez} He's part of the family and I've known him for a very long time. Especially my kids, who know him very well – they played together in Aix-en-Provence," the Real Madrid boss revealed last year. "He always had this outstanding natural talent at his age and for his stature.
"It's amazing what he's doing, not just at his age, because today age means nothing, but mostly because of the personality he has in the game. In other words, he's someone who runs a lot, but is someone who plays a lot and makes others play as well."
Meanwhile, in March Lopez revealed that Liverpool had approached him in the past offering the chance to become Philippe Coutinho's long-term replacement at Anfield.
Lopez told l'Equipe: "They told me: 'In five years you will have Coutinho's position.' They sang my praises, I even met Steven Gerrard in the stadium after the match.
"I wanted to go there, but also to stay at OM. To leave like that, at the age even if my family would have gone too, it was very hard. I had noted that they had 30-odd young professional players, not even counting the first team. You really have to be mentally ready."