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How close Liverpool came to signing Jeremy Doku before £55m Man City deal

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Man City have agreed a £55.5 million deal to sign winger Jeremy Doku, who on multiple occasions saw Liverpool roll out the red carpet for him.

Doku is set to become the third signing of the summer at the Etihad, following Josko Gvardiol and Mateo Kovacic, with an agreement struck with Rennes.

According to Sky Sports, the Manchester side will pay around £55.5 million for the 21-year-old, who has emerged as one of the most exciting attacking talents in Europe.

While it cannot be considered a blow for Liverpool, given the wealth of talent they boast in the final third, it does not come without their own attempts to sign Doku.

In fact, the youngster has twice turned down a move to Anfield in the past, with the club’s first attempt coming in 2018.

The winger’s father, David Doku, explained how the club pulled out all the stops to tempt his son to join during a visit to Melwood.

“Klopp explained how he saw a potential successor to Sadio Mane in Jeremy,” he told Het Nieuwsblad in 2020.

WREXHAM, WALES - Friday, September 6, 2019: Belgium's Jéremy Doku during the UEFA Under-21 Championship Italy 2019 Qualifying Group 9 match between Wales and Belgium at the Racecourse Ground. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

“At the age of 16, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City, Ajax and PSV were interested. We then visited clubs like Liverpool and Ajax. My preference was Liverpool.

“Steven Gerrard showed us videos with tactical analysis. At the training complex Mignolet, Mane and Wijnaldum came to talk to us. How we were received there – damn!”

Despite the advances from Liverpool, and both legendary figures and fellow Belgians meeting the teenager, Doku opted to stay with Anderlecht.

He eventually made the switch to Rennes in 2020, but not before another offer from Merseyside, as the winger himself told Het Nieuwsblad two years ago.

“I did a lot of research first, wrote down all the positive points and only then did I make a decision,” he explained.

“I knew that I first wanted to make an intermediate step. Going to a top club now would be too soon.

MUNICH, GERMANY - JULY 02: Jeremy Doku of Belgium reacts during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Quarter-final match between Belgium and Italy at Football Arena Munich on July 02, 2021 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann - UEFA)

“I still have a lot to learn and Rennes is the ideal place for that.

“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.”

While Doku is primarily a right winger, and Ben Doak serves as the only natural backup to Mohamed Salah at this stage, it is no surprise that Liverpool did not pursue him again this summer.

With Cody Gakpo, Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota also firmly in place, there are bigger priorities elsewhere when it comes to recruitment.

Doku’s move to a “top club” comes instead, then, to Man City, where he will fill the void left by Riyad Mahrez following his move to Al-Ahli.