Sidiki Maiga is a hot prospect in European football at the moment. Never heard the name? The 16-year-old footballer from Mali is attracting roving eyes from powerhouses Arsenal, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Maiga has caught the eyes of several footballers and administrators after a brilliant showing for his nation in the just-concluded 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile. The coveted title was won by Nigeria, after they defeated Mali in the final 2-0 on 8 November.
Of course, major football tournaments such as the U-17 World Cup or the U-21 World Cup do give plenty of options to heavyweight football clubs looking out for potential players. Brazil's Neymar is one of the biggest examples.
According to Catalan daily Sport, the above three clubs are pursuing the player after their scouts have been believed to be impressed with his performance in the U-17 World Cup. Maiga scored thrice in the competition, which includes a brace in the quarter-final, as well as crucial goal in the semi-final against Belgium.
The only stumbling block that prevents the clubs from signing the Mali forward is his age. Maiga cannot sign a professional contract with any club until he is 18, which means until December next year. He currently plies his trade with local Malian side Real Bamako.
Barcelona are keen on polishing the player at their revered La Masia academy, and are looking for signing Maiga on a right of first refusal deal by the end of the year, so that he can sign with them professionally when he turns 18.
However, the Catalan giants need to tread carefully as Barca have been previously punished by FIFA for signing underage players. That is however not going to be the only hindrance. Arsenal and Real Madrid can also be expected to provide the La Liga champions immense competition for the signature of the player.