Romelu Lukaku was crucial in preventing Chelsea from signing winger Jeremy Doku, according to a club chief, which allowed Manchester City to land the 21-year-old.
Doku has long been linked with a move to the Premier League amid his exceptional displays for Rennes in France. The winger, who has frightening pace and dribbling ability, has been repeatedly named as a target for Liverpool.
Instead, though, he has ended up at Liverpool’s Premier League rivals City. On August 21, journalist Santi Aouna revealed how Pep Guardiola’s side had reached an agreement with Rennes for Doku’s capture.
Three days later, City announced his arrival at the Etihad. They have paid €60m (then £51.4m) for the Belgium international, who has penned a five-year deal with last season’s treble winners.
Doku made his debut for City in the 5-1 thrashing of Fulham. He will be aiming to force his way into Guardiola’s starting eleven once club football resumes after the international break.
However, things could have been far different for the wide man. Anderlecht academy boss Jean Kindermans has explained how Doku was considering joining Chelsea when he was 15 years old, but compatriot Lukaku convinced him not to make the switch.
“I remember taking Romelu into my office about the problem of getting young players to commit to us – Doku in particular,” Kindermans said during an interview with the Sunday Mirror (via the Evening Standard).
“Romelu replied, ‘Come on, pass your phone to me, I’m going to call him’.
Romelu Lukaku stops Chelsea transfer
“But I didn’t want to do that because a phone call gets quickly forgotten. So, instead, I got Romelu to convince Jeremy to stay.
“I still have the video on my phone. On it, you can hear Romelu giving advice to the Doku family, saying ‘Hey, guys, stay with Anderlecht for a while, you’re good’ and so on.”
It seems Lukaku did not want Doku to follow in his footsteps. The centre-forward swapped Anderlecht for Chelsea in 2011. But he did not get many first-team opportunities and resultantly had loan spells at West Brom and Everton to gain senior experience.
Lukaku left Chelsea permanently in July 2014 by signing for Everton.
The 30-year-old, who is currently on loan at Roma, may feel slightly awkward now that his advice to Doku has come to light. He is technically still on Chelsea’s books and may end up returning to Mauricio Pochettino’s squad next summer if Roma cannot afford to buy him.
Lukaku was the main person responsible for Doku not moving to Stamford Bridge, in a move which has now allowed City to capitalise.