Rennes star Jeremy Doku has opened up on his decision to reject a transfer to Liverpool despite holding discussions with Jurgen Klopp, Steven Gerrard and Sadio Mane.
The teenage winger, 18, is one of the rising stars in Europe, currently plying his trade in the French Ligue 1 after signing for his current club from Anderlecht in the summer in a £23million deal.
However, things could have worked out a lot differently for the Belgian, who had no shortage of offers on the table several years ago including the bright lights of the Premier League.
“I was going to be 16 and that was the age you can sign a pro contract. A lot of teams came to see me,” Doku told Ouest-France . “Everyone talks about Liverpool because it was the most concrete interest but there was also Arsenal and Chelsea.”
And it seems Liverpool were particularly keen on landing the promising youngster, even using their past and present stars in their charm offensive to try and get Doku to sign.
“I was able to discuss with Jurgen, Mane, [Georginio] Wijnaldum… Gerrard too. 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’.”
Yet while there was obvious appeal in leaving Anderlecht behind for Anfield, Doku rejected Liverpool’s advances to further his development in his home country.
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“I preferred to be careful,” he added. “I knew 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.”
Doku was able to rack up more than 20 first-team appearances by the time Rennes came calling with an opportunity to join their ranks., and has since become a first-team regular, scoring on his last outing vs Metz, though was then sent off.
The likes of Leeds star Raphinha, Watford’s Ismaila Sarr and Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy have all used Rennes as a stepping stone to a transfer across the pond, and Doku is confident he can follow in their footsteps, providing he keeps up his progress.
He added: “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 play well.”