Did Sadio Mane really talk Jeremy Doku out of Liverpool move?

Belgian winger Jeremy Doku appears set to join Manchester City, but he might have been a Liverpool player once upon a time.

City have reportedly agreed a £55m deal to take 21-year-old Doku from Rennes, with the player now set for a medical. He is widely rated as one of the most exciting young wingers in world football.

Back in 2018, when he was still a 15-year-old Anderlecht youth prospect, Liverpool tried to recruit Doku for their own academy and even flew the player and his family over to Merseyside to meet the likes of Jurgen Klopp, Steven Gerrard, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

All the stops were pulled out to convince the prodigy of a move to Merseyside, with Anderlecht supposedly resigned to losing one of their biggest talents in years.

According to a profile in the Guardian, Doku's father David said that Klopp told him, "Jeremy could replace Mane in a few years.”

Salah gave young Doku a shirt, while his parents were shown a school and discussed salary expectations.

However, ultimately Doku never made the move. He made his Anderlecht senior debut later the same year and only left in 2020 – for Rennes in a €26m transfer.

He has been a regular in the gossip columns since, with Liverpool's interest occassionally touted. However, it seems this will become another unfulfilled possibility.

But why wasn't Doku convinced of a move to Liverpool back in 2018?

READ MORE: What transfers could Liverpool still make before deadline day?

One theory doing the rounds as the City move nears completion is that he was actually put off by Mane.

The slightly over-egged accusation stems from an interview the soon-to-be City star did with Ouest-France back in 2021.

He told the French outlet about his visit to Liverpool: "I spoke a lot with Mane but we didn't really talk about football. We talked about everything. He asked me my age, he told me 'you have to be nice to your mother'. It was above all an exchange and a human relationship. He told me that I was young, that I still had time… It wasn't to convince me or tell me 'come here, you'll succeed'.

"So I preferred to be careful. I knew what my journey should be. I knew what route I needed to take, and I knew at that moment I needed to stay at Anderlecht."

Rather than Mane talking him out of a move, it appears Doku really just had it in his mind that he wanted to succeed in his home country first.

Back in the Guardian's 2021 profile of Doku prior to the delayed Euro 2020, it is also said that the youngster was 'less impressed' by Liverpool than his parents back in 2018, and needed little convincing go back to Anderlecht.

The piece adds that the Belgian club used former player Romelu Lukaku to film a video message to help convince their rising star that he should first break through in Belgium before looking for his big move. According to the article, that video message took away 'the last doubts'.

Doku, who turned down Arsenal and Chelsea as well as Liverpool, added later in the Ouest-France interview that he was open to an eventual Anfield transfer.

He said: "If Liverpool came at 15, if they like me, they'll come back later, that's for sure. It's up to me to be good."

Ultimately, the Reds never did, instead recruiting the likes of Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, Darwin Nuñez and Cody Gakpo in the attacking positions in recent years.

Whether Doku's imminent move to City will make Liverpool fans and transfer chiefs dream of 'what might have been' remains to be seen.

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