Jurgen Klopp thought he was signing a future Sadio Mane replacement in Jeremy Doku five years ago – only for the ex-Liverpool star to scupper the move.
And now the Reds boss will have to come up against the Belgian winger as he closes in on a big-money transfer to Manchester City.
GettyMan City are closing in on the signing of Belgian winger Doku from Rennes[/caption]
AFPBut he could have joined Liverpool – had it not been for a chat with Mane[/caption]
talkSPORT understands that the 21-year-old is on his way to the Etihad after a £55milllion fee was agreed with Rennes.
But it was Liverpool that came close to securing his services first, as they looked to have beaten Arsenal and Chelsea in the race to prise the forward away from Anderlecht in 2018.
After being granted permission to speak to the then-15-year-old, Doku was given a tour around the club’s former Melwood training ground.
He even spoke to boss Klopp and then-Under-18s manager Steven Gerrard, as well as being gifted a signed Mohamed Salah shirt.
But it was a conversation with Mane, whose position he would have taken in the future, that persuaded him to remain at Anderlecht.
Speaking to Ouest-France in 2021 about the proposed transfer, Doku said: “My 16th birthday was coming up, the age you can sign a pro contract.
“A lot of teams came to see me – Liverpool was the most concrete interest but there was also Arsenal and Chelsea.
“I went with my mum and dad, and we were given a tour of the stadium, the training ground, even the school I would go to.
The forward was a player in demand five years agoGetty
Doku has revealed Mane helped convince him to remain at Anderlecht in 2018Getty
“They gave me a signed Salah shirt, and I met the players.
“I was able to discuss with Jurgen, Gerrard too, we looked at some video moments, and he spoke about the development.
“We met players, [Simon] Mignolet because he was Belgian, [Georginio] Wijnaldum from Netherlands.
“I talked a lot with Mane, but we didn’t really talk about football. We talked about everything.
“He told me that I was young, that I still had time… he wasn’t trying to convince me or to say to me ‘come here, you will succeed’.”
Doku added: “I preferred to be careful. I know what my trajectory had to be.
“That’s why, at 15, I told myself it had become serious, because I’d seen my career. I know what route I needed to take and I knew at that moment I needed to stay at Anderlecht.
GettyDoku has revealed he was gifted a signed Salah shirt as the Reds looked to secure his services[/caption]
“As soon as I’m asked if I regret it, I always say no, because if Liverpool came to me at 15, if they like me, they’ll come back later, that’s certain. It’s up to me to be play well.”
The 16-cap international eventually joined Rennes in 2020 for a club-record fee rising to £25.5m – chipping in with 12 goals in 91 games in all competitions for the French side.