As the January transfer window edges closer with each passing week, it's time for the rumour mill to start churning out transfer gossip with greater regularity.
Liverpool, among many of the Premier League's other big clubs, are frequently linked to any and every player under the sun, with the majority of rumours eventually amounting to nothing.
However, recent links to Hoffenheim starlet Maximilian Beier may be slightly different, with Liverpool's reported interest in the attacker having been confirmed by well-renowned journalist Florian Plettenberg of Sky Germany.
In a recent post on X, Plettenberg revealed that Beier is destined to leave Hoffenheim next summer, with Liverpool the only specific club named as a potential suitor - although he does report that many top English teams are interested.
Beier has impressed in the Bundesliga this season and Plettenberg claims he has a release clause of just of £26m in the summer, with the Reds perhaps ready to pounce.
But just who is the German wonderkid catching the eye at Hoffenheim?
WHO IS MAXIMILIAN BEIER?
Born on 17 October 2002, Beier is a forward for Hoffenheim capable of playing across the front three. The 21-year-old has generally featured in a centre-forward position this season, but is also comfortable cutting in from the left-hand side on to his favoured right foot.
Beier moved from hometown club Brandenburger SC to Energie Cottbus during his youth career, eventually joining up with Hoffenheim's academy in 2018.
Having thoroughly impressed in the youth setup, scoring 30 goals across two seasons with the U17s and U19s, the 6ft1 forward was promoted to the first team towards the end of the 2019/20 season, making six appearances for Hoffenheim.
However, the youngster only featured five times the following campaign, but did manage his first two senior goals in the Europa League in a 4-1 win over Gent which also saw him grab an assist.
To allow him more first-team opportunities, the attacker was then shipped on a two-year loan deal to Hannover 96 in 2. Bundesliga, providing 15 goals and eight assists in the second tier across 68 matches.
However, Hoffenheim decided to give their young prodigy a run in the first team this season, an opportunity that Beier has grabbed with both hands.
In his opening 13 Bundesliga matches, Beier has netted six goals and laid on another four for teammates, including a hat-trick of assists in a 3-2 win over high-flying Stuttgart in late October.
Beier, who is perhaps closing in on a first senior cap for Germany, has frequently represented the country's youth teams throughout the years.
WHAT ARE HIS STRENGTHS?
Current Hoffenheim boss Pellegrino Matarazzo has waxed lyrical about Beier in the past, pinpointing his ruthlessness in front of goal as one of his core strengths.
"Above all, it is important for him to even get into positions from which he can shoot," said Matarazzo. "He can manage that thanks to his dynamism and technique.
"You either have those genes or you don't, and Maxi has those genes to score goals."
Beier's impressive goalscoring tally throughout his short career highlights his quality in the final third. His strong physical presence, height and, most significantly, speed have contributed to his meteoric rise.
The 21-year-old's pace has made him an incredibly useful asset for Hoffenheim, allowing him to drift into wide positions and run beyond the characteristically high lines of the Bundesliga. Beier has netted plenty of goals by cutting on to his right foot from the left flank.
This season, Beier has averaged 3.08 shots per match, with a shot on target percentage of 51.6% in the Bundesliga, highlighting his accuracy in front of goal.
His dribbling ability is also evident from his 2.09 progressive carries, 4.08 take-ons attempted and 1.39 successful take-ons per 90, putting him among the Bundesliga's best forwards for these metrics.
WHAT ARE HIS WEAKNESSES?
One obvious weakness is a lack of experience at the top level. Despite a strong start to the new term, Beier has still made just 22 appearances in the Bundesliga, meaning he has rarely been tested up against some of Europe's strongest defences.
In games against Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen this season, Beier drew a blank. While only time will tell whether he is good enough to perform consistently at the highest level, it will be interesting to see how he progresses by the end of the Bundesliga campaign.
Based on his underlying numbers, passing could also be an area in which Beier must improve. He currently boasts a pass completion rate of just 65.1% in the Bundesliga and ranks in the bottom 20% of the league's forwards for passes completed (11.34), progressive passes (1.19) and passes into the final third (0.20) per 90.
Despite being over 6ft tall, the Hoffenheim forward also has a pretty poor record in the air having won just 33.3% of his aerial duels this season.
Given that Manchester United spent £72m on Rasmus Hojlund after one good year in Serie A, Liverpool's money would certainly be safe with Beier at £26m.
The speedster is a player with huge potential and someone whose development the Reds would be foolish not to keep an eye on. However, whether Jurgen Klopp has a space for him in his team is another matter,
It seems a pretty low-risk transfer based on the current market, but Beier remains an unpolished diamond.