Liverpool fans may remember Valbuena for his goal against Rafa Benitez's side in the Champions League at Anfield in 2007. He also scored against England at Wembley in 2010.
Remember valbuena Scoring a worldy against us for marseille— william (@Carndog85Bill) January 8, 2014
The 29-year-old is in his eighth season with Marseille and has made over 300 appearances for the Ligue 1 side, he'd certainly bring some much-needed experience to Brendan Rodgers' squad.
He's currently sidelined with a shoulder injury he picked up against Lille last month, but due to return this month.
Valbuena, nicknamed "le petit velo" (the little bike) due to his diminutive size—he's 5'6"—has been linked with a number of top clubs around Europe in the past, including Manchester United and Arsenal.
Indeed, Valbuena was linked with a move to Anfield in 2009, when his agent told Sky Sports;
Mathieu would very much be interested in playing in England as the Premier League is the best in Europe.
Liverpool are also interested in Mathieu, but so are teams in Spain, Germany, Italy and Russia.
Still a key part of the France squad that successfully qualified for next summer's World Cup, albeit via a play-off victory over Ukraine, Valbuena is a player in the mould that Rodgers desires.
In an interview with the official Liverpool website recently, Rodgers outlined the type of player he wishes to sign:
I think my history as a coach shows I like players who are gifted technically and have courage when it comes to being in possession of a football. That is a key quality for me; can you be brave on the pitch, not in terms of 50/50 tackles, but having the ball and looking to play in areas others wouldn't? I would say you can't divorce the two - ability and personality. It all comes as part of the package. A player's character is a crucial factor I look into before committing to signing them. They also need to show a willingness to learn, regardless of age and experience; that's very important to me.
Valbuena would tick the boxes there—he's certainly technically gifted and known for his tenacity. He doesn't shy of his defensive duties despite his obvious attacking role. His size doesn't prevent him putting a tackle in.
Are we looking at Valbuena? Good player but at 29 surely BR is looking elsewhere. Could see him fitting our mould perfectly though— LetsTalkLFC (@LetsTalkLFC) January 8, 2014
Capable of playing from the right, left or centre, Valbuena would also bring versatility to Rodgers' attacking options. He has been used primarily on the right of the front three in a 4-3-3 at Marseille so would fit into Rodgers' system well.
Age vs. Experience
Valbuena's age—he's 29—could be a problem for Rodgers, though, with FSG's desire for buying younger players well known. This is something Steven Gerrard was critical of last January.
"I think you've got to add experience to young gifted players as well because in this league and at this level you need experience," said Gerrard, according to a report by Andy Hunter in The Guardian.
Gerrard cited Gary McAllister's influence on him when Gerard Houllier made the surprise signing of the then-34-year-old in 2000, playing a key role in Liverpool's treble cup success.
Valbuena, with his experience in the Champions League in particular, would be an excellent mentor for the abundance of youngsters in Liverpool's squad—Philippe Coutinho is still learning his trade at 21, Raheem Sterling is 19 and even Jordan Henderson is only 23 and has plenty to learn.
Would FSG be willing to break policy for Valbuena? That would largely depend on the price tag that Marseille place on him, and with three years remaining on his current contract he wouldn't come cheap.