The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has seen an array of sporting leagues and tournaments across the world postponed until further notice, but clubs will no doubt be keen to identify potential signings for when the football season kicks off again.
One player who has supposedly caught the eye of a number of Premier League teams is teenage defender Malick Thiaw, who has chalked up a number of impressive performances for Schalke 04's Under-19 side this season.
Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City are allegedly looking to strengthen their defensive options in the near future, and the trio have all been credited with an interest in the youthful centre-back.
With the 18-year-old's current deal at Schalke reportedly set to expire next summer, Sports Mole provides the lowdown on Thiaw, looking at how the English sides could benefit from securing the defender's signature.
Thiaw began his youth career in 2009, spending one year with the academy at Fortuna Dusseldorf. The 18-year-old also spent a year in the youth ranks at Bayer Leverkusen before joining the academy setup at Borussia Monchengladbach in 2011. Thiaw spent four years with Monchengladbach before switching to Schalke in 2015.
Since then, the defender has risen through the ranks at the Royal Blues and won the 2018-19 Under-19 Bundesliga West title with Schalke, playing 25 out of 26 games and registering two assists along the way.
Born in Germany, Thiaw is eligible to represent Finland through his mother and is a strong presence in the air at 6ft 3in tall.
How has he fared this season?
Thiaw has made quite the impression in the 2019-20 Under-19 Bundesliga West, registering eight goals and one assist from 20 starts as Schalke sit sixth in the table.
Furthermore, the centre-back had been handed the captain's armband in the Under-19's last five fixtures prior to the coronavirus postponement and has two braces to his name this season. Thiaw has also chalked up three Junior DFB-Pokal appearances this term, scoring once.
Thiaw was born in Dusseldorf, Germany, but holds a Finnish passport. He was called up to the Finnish Under-17 side for the 2017 Inter Toto Cup in Austria, although his side finished rock bottom of the group.
Nevertheless, the teenager's performances throughout the season will be sure to garner more attention from international managers, and Finland's Under-21 coach has allegedly already spoken to Thiaw. However, the defender has supposedly announced his desire to represent Germany.
Is he likely to feature in the starting lineup?
Thiaw's goalscoring attributes and imposing 6ft 3in figure make him the ideal modern day centre-back. Arsenal can look forward to welcoming William Saliba back to the Emirates in the summer, with Sokratis Papastathopoulos, David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi all facing uncertain futures at the club. That being said, Thiaw would certainly be hopeful for a place in Mikel Arteta's first XI.
Jurgen Klopp's side have also been linked with Eintracht Frankfurt's Evan Ndicka in recent weeks, and the signing of Thiaw could allow Joe Gomez to cover for Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back in case of injury.
Manchester City have no doubt been hit hard by Aymeric Laporte's injuries throughout the season, and while Fernandinho has done a stellar job deputising in the heart of defence, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi have been less than convincing for Pep Guardiola's side.
At 34 years of age, Fernandinho is 16 years Thiaw's senior, although the Brazilian has recently put pen to paper on a one-year extension at the Etihad. Nevertheless, the City faithful would have every right to get excited about a future defensive partnership of Laporte and Thiaw.