Liverpool will be rueing their mistake after Jeremy Doku starred for Belgium in their defeat to Italy at Euro 2020. Roberto Martinez’s men are out of the tournament but the Rennes ace was one of their best players on the night.
Belgium star Doku was in brilliant form on Friday night as the Red Devils lost to Italy in their Euro 2020 quarter-final.
As Micah Richards said in the BBC studio after the match, the Rennes star did not deserve to be on the losing side.
Roberto Mancini’s men took another step towards winning the tournament after making it into the semi-finals following their 2-1 win over Belgium.
Nicolo Barella opened the scoring before Lorenzo Insigne netted a sublime strike past Thibaut Courtois.
But it was Doku to get the Red Devils back into the match with a typical surging run that forced Giovani Di Lorenzo into a foul in the box.
Romelu Lukaku netted the subsequent penalty but it was not enough to ger Roberto Martinez’s men back into the game.
However, Doku continued to prove problematic for the Italians – giving their defenders headaches with the amount of times he was spinning themselves inside out.
At just 19, it has been a remarkable rise for the Rennes ace – but it could have been very different.
Back in 2018, Liverpool pulled out all the stops to try and convince the then-Anderlecht starlet to join their club.
They pleaded with the youngster by telling him he would succeed Sadio Mane in the first-team, while Jurgen Klopp, Steven Gerrard and Georginio Wijnaldum all spoke to him about signing.
Instead, the winger stayed with Anderlecht for two more years before signing for Rennes for €26m but Liverpool have retained their interest.
Earlier this year, Doku revealed all on his chats with the Reds and his decision.
“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,” he told Ouest-France. “Everyone talks about Liverpool because it was the most concrete interest but there was also Arsenal and Chelsea.
“I was able to discuss with Jurgen [Klopp], Mane, [Georginio] Wijnaldum… [Steven] 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’.
“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.
“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.”
And after his statement performance against Italy, Liverpool will surely have ramped up their interest yet again – especially as the club looks at how best to succeed the likes of Mane and Salah.