Jeremy Doku goes past his man

With just two days till the start of the 2021/22 Premier League season, clubs are still looking to add to their squad as they plan for the season ahead. Liverpool added young centre back Ibrahima Konate early in the window but have been quiet since. It is largely believed the club are on the lookout for a wide forward but can only make progress if they get rid of one or two existing squad members.

With a bid rejected over the past few days from French club Lyon, for Xherdan Shaqiri, the club seem to be closing in on a sale. That has seen links to Belgian winger Jeremy Doku intensify. Most fans only know him from his performance against Italy at Euro 2020. As such, we’ll take a deep dive into his career so far to see what sort of attributes make him suitable (or not) for potential suitors like Liverpool.

Born in Brussels in May 2002, Jeremy Doku moved to Anderlecht in 2012 at the age of 10. He rose through the club’s youth teams before making his professional debut in a 4–2 Belgian First Division A loss to Sint-Truiden on 25 November 2018, at the age of 16. He made 6 appearances that season as he dipped his toes into senior football for the first time. It was the following season that he really got people to sit up and take notice.

He made more appearances and showed glimpses of the raw talent he was born with. Coming through the ranks as a tricky dribbler, he was utilised in several positions for the senior team. He was played on the right wing, down the left, and even through the middle at times. He made 24 appearances for Anderlecht in that 2019/20 season, scoring 3 goals and providing 4 assists. The then 17 year old was already attracting interest from big clubs around Europe.

He started last season (2020/21) with Anderlecht and was in sizzling form in the Belgium Jupiler Pro League. In the opening months of the season he had scored 2 goals, provided 4 assists, created 14 chances and completed 25 dribbles from just 7 appearances. The buzz around him meant he was inevitably getting his big money move. The youngster turned down Liverpool and a host of other big clubs to sign for French outfit Rennes for €26 million on a 5 year contract.

Jeremy Doku presented as a Rennes player

He would later explain the reasoning behind the move saying: “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.” On Liverpool’s interest, Doku said: “I was able to discuss with Jurgen, Mane, 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’.” Before Doku continued: “I preferred to be careful. 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.”

Talk about maturity for one so young. He had mapped out his career in his head and realised he needed a pit stop before really making the move to one of the biggest teams in the world. Rennes was perfect in that regard, he would get exposure to the Ligue 1 and the Champions League. That exposure would then ensure he could build on having just made his debut for the Belgium national team.

€26million was big money for an 18 year old, especially for a club like Rennes. He had a good season though, as he showcased his raw dribbling ability. His underlying stats for the French side last season read; 2 goals, 4 assists, 60 chances created and a mind blowing 133 dribbles across 37 appearances in all competitions. He is clearly not the finished article yet, but the raw potential is frightening.

He got selected for Belgium’s Euro 2020 squad and really made a name for himself against Italy. His dribbling ability and explosive pace made him almost unplayable that day as he constantly caused havoc down the left hand side. He even won a penalty for his side (which Lukaku converted) but Belgium were unfortunately knocked out by the eventual winners that day. Everyone who watched that game had the name Jeremy Doku ringing in their heads for a while after that.

Jeremy Doku celebrates scoring for Belgium

Still very young (he turned 19 barely three months ago), he’s just had a full season in one of Europe’s top five leagues under his belt, including a full Champions League campaign. He’s also earned ten caps for a talented Belgium side, scoring twice, including announcing himself at a major tournament. All signs point towards a talent who is ready to make the next step in a carefully planned career.

He is in some ways similar in playing style to Adama Traore, minus the muscle and baby oil of course, but with a higher ceiling considering his age and career trajectory so far. You could see how he could come into the Liverpool squad and offer a different kind of threat. Still very raw in some ways, his underlying pace and directness, can see him become a monster of a wide forward if harnessed properly.

His father stated a while back that Jurgen Klopp wanted Jeremy to be a long term successor to Sadio Mané and you can see how that would make sense. A talent like Doku, under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp, could really explode big time. He’s young enough to understand having to be a squad player in the beginning. Having players like Mane, Salah and Jota to train and learn from could speed up his development too.

The prospect of 18 year old Harvey Elliott on the right wing and 19 year old Jeremy Doku on the left wing already has many Liverpool fans salivating at a pair that could in a few years, take over from two of the best wide forwards in Premier League history. Rennes will want to a significant profit on their investment, with a fee of £35-40million bandied around by the media. Liverpool’s interest in the past is legit, but whether there’s any legs in this runour for this summer remains to be seen.


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