Alexandru Maxim, Romanian Centre Attacking Midfielder, Age 23
This is why Maxim signed with Romanian Liga I club Pandurii Tg-Jiu, a team known to German clubs after they shopped around Ivorian international Constant Djakpa, who possessed immense physical qualities but had flawed decision-making.
Stuttgart looked past Djakpa's failure in the Bundesliga and took a €1.5 million gamble on Maxim.
Maxim arrived in January 2013 and stepped into a prosperous situation, as then-Stuttgart manager Bruno Labbadia was looking for an alternative to Tamas Hajnal, a diminutive technician who was on his way out.
"We want the team to have some fun again," Stuttgart's sporting director Fredi Bobic said, via Raphael Honigstein at The Guardian, as he tried to explain the sacking of Labbadia three games into this season.
Maxim has since taken his game to another level under Labbadia's successor, Thomas Schneider, the 40-year-old rookie manager, who gives Maxim freedom across the attacking half.
Maxim is Schneider's MVP (leads the team in assists, key passes per game, crosses per game and is second in dribbles per game).
Schneider, formerly on the books of Stuttgart, played alongside Bulgarian maestro Krasimir Balakov, a 1994 FIFA World Cup all-star and knows Maxim can be his version of Balakov.
Maxim, an agile 5'10" playmaker, rivals Mr. Woo in skill, is comfortable crossing the ball with either foot and relishes taking on opposing players (averages 2.4 dribbles per game; 0.1 higher than Coutinho).
Maxim has many strengths, but it is his dead-ball expertise that makes him special, as Stuttgart lead the Bundesliga in set-piece goals (eight).
That said, he is not the designated penalty taker. That role goes to Vedad Ibisevic, who is 6/8 from 12 yards out since last December.
Maxim is predominantly used in a 4-2-3-1 as a No. 10, but he did play as a second striker in a 4-4-1-1 during a 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin, a game in which he registered an assist.
LFC scouts were in Athens last night to watch Romanian youngster, Alexandru Maxim & Greek striker, Konstantinos Mitroglou who scored twice.— Joseph Musker (@Musker_LFC) November 16, 2013
All the Stuttgart players press to win back the ball, so Maxim has the work-rate to fit into Brendan Rodgers' system.
Rodgers has tried several formations ranging from a 4-2-3-1, a 3-4-1-2 to a 4-4-2, the latter resulted in a 4-0 win over Fulham.
Maxim won't be playing in a central position should the Luis Suarez-Daniel Sturridge combination continue scoring.
Yes, Maxim is adept with both feet, but his finishing foot is his right (four league goals from his right, zero from his left); therefore his secondary position would be as an inverted left-winger.
Though that is where Coutinho, a world-class prospect who is going through a lean patch, has played.
Suso, on loan at Almeria, has had some fantastic moments on both wings, creating five goals (one less than Maxim).
Suso deserves one more chance to break into Rodgers' first XI.
Maxim, who won't come cheaply, as he is a cash cow for Stuttgart (along with 17-year-old phenom Timo Werner), would be a luxury rather than a necessary signing.