Brendan Rodgers' recent interest in MK Dons starlet Dele Alli may have raised a few eyebrows given that the 17-year-old has made just seven League One starts, per Transfermarkt.co.uk, and is barely treading water in his professional career.
However, Liverpool are right to consider luring the teenage playmaker to Anfield this winter, with a bright future pegged out for one of the jewels under Karl Robinson's command.
The attacking midfielder helped his side to an impressive result at the DW Stadium, earning a replay in the competition despite the fact that Robinson's squad was largely made up of players under the age of 22.
Per the Mirror's report, the Dons manager is extremely proud of how Alli has grown under his tutelage, and remarked on his close friendship with Rodgers:
I know Brendan quite well and we speak about different players all the time. There may have been another reason why he was at the game, but you've seen Dele and he's special.
Yes, he did some silly things but he's 17 years of age. He did bits of magic too. You don't see many 17 year olds playing in an FA Cup third round tie against a very good Wigan side and not looking out of place.
I'm very proud of his development.
Alli is enjoying a breakthrough season at Stadium MK, the only obstacle thus far being a short-term injury that ruled him out of action for several weeks in October.
The Times' Rory Smith was on hand to watch the action unfold at Wigan this weekend, and was all praise for Alli in particular:
Penalty missed. MK Dons on top, though. Dele Alli, 17, hugely impressive. Brendan Rodgers here watching him. #LFC— Rory Smith (@RorySmithTimes) January 4, 2014
While the majority of his appearances have come from the bench, the Milton Keynes native could be seen as a viable alternative to Derby County's Will Hughes, also said to be drawing Rodgers' gaze.
The Mirror's Alan Nixon recently reported that Liverpool had agreed a first option deal for the Rams starlet's signature, but even that move could be some way off given that speculation has mentioned fees of up to £15 million in the equation.
Aside from the obvious financial benefits that an Alli transfer would hold, MK Dons' alternative would give Rodgers a finer chance of working within the Liverpool youth ranks for a longer period, far from the demand for first-team action that Hughes' acquisition might evoke.
In an age where young, English talent has developed a distasteful reputation for being overpriced, Alli could be the cut-price option, of similar potential, who could go on to pay back dividends.