Jeremy Doku: Who is Rennes winger set for Manchester City?

21-year-old Jeremy Doku, who has 16 caps for Belgium and came through the ranks at Anderlecht before joining Rennes in 2020, is moving to EPL

Avignyan Mukhopadhyay
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Jeremy Doku | Sportz Point

The 21-year-old Jeremy Doku, who has 16 caps for Belgium and came through the ranks at Anderlecht before joining Rennes in 2020, is moving to the Premier League after three injury-hit years in France.

The Belgium international has been linked with a number of Premier League teams this summer and is now set to join the champions.

He takes the place of Riyad Mahrez, who moved to Saudi club Al-Ahli for £30m.

Since the start of last season he has completed more dribbles per 90 minutes than anybody in Europe's top five leagues.

Should Doku complete the move to the Etihad Stadium, he will become Pep Guardiola's third summer recruit in this transfer window, after Mateo Kovacic and Josko Gvardiol.

Doku scored for Rennes in their opening Ligue 1 game against Metz, following on from the six league goals he netted last season.

"With his speed, power and technical ability he is custom-made for the Premier League," says Belgian journalist Claudo Reulens.

"The fans will love him, because he's a very spectacular player. There is always something happening when he is on the ball."

Where will he fit in?

Doku is capable of playing on either wing, but the right side - where Mahrez played for the bulk of last season - is likely to be his home.

Jack Grealish has the left wing spot nailed down - and Phil Foden is likely to play centrally with Kevin de Bruyne currently sidelined.

Bernardo Silva, like Foden, can play centrally or out wide - with Julian Alvarez also capable of playing on the wing, although most of his games have been in the middle.

Doku played fewer minutes than any of them last season - with 13 Ligue 1 starts and 16 appearances off the bench - because of injury problems, but still managed six goals and two assists.

He netted against Metz on the opening day of this season.

How Doku compared last season to City wingers (league only, per 90 mins)
Doku Silva Foden Mahrez Grealish
Goals+assists 0.56 0.37 0.78 0.7 0.52
Shots 1.8 1 2.3 2 1.8
Chances created 2.1 1.3 2.1 2.4 2.2
Dribbles attempted 10.9 2.4 3.7 2.7 3.5
Dribbles completed 6.7 1.1 2.1 1.3 2.1
Successful passes 29.9 51.6 42.2 42 37.8
Crosses in open play 1.7 2.9 2.6 1.8 1.7
* Includes games played centrally

Doku is more of a textbook winger than his new colleagues, or the man he is replacing, with over twice as many dribbles but fewer passes.

"He's very different to Mahrez," former Tottenham defender Ledley King told BBC Radio 5 Live's Football Daily podcast.

Journalist Reulens said: "His speed is incredible, he has an acceleration in the acceleration. His first dribble is his best attribute.

"In the final third he has to improve but in a great attacking team like Manchester City, I am sure he will improve on that.

"He has a playing style like Raheem Sterling, but in my opinion Doku has more potential."

Where did Jeremy Doku come from?

Jeremy Doku | Sportz Point

Jeremy Doku pictured scoring against Denmark in Chesterfield played in the 2018 European Under-17 Championship for Belgium (Image- BBC)

Doku joined the Anderlecht youth set-up at the age of 10 and made his first-team debut six years later.

But before that first-team breakthrough, at the age of 15, he was close to joining Liverpool for a reported £500,000, with City, Chelsea and Arsenal also interested.

He went across to Merseyside and spoke to Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, youth coach Steven Gerrard and first-team players Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum.

In a 2021 interview with Ouest-France, Doku said: "I spoke a lot with Mane but we didn't really talk about football. We talked about everything.

"He asked me my age, he said to me: 'You have to be nice to your mother.' He told me that I was young, that I still had time.

"I knew which route I had to take, to stay in Anderlecht. When I'm asked whether I regret it, I always say no, because if Liverpool came at 15, if they like me, they'll come back later."

After less than two years in the Anderlecht first team - including a spell under City legend Vincent Kompany, Doku went to Rennes for a reported £23.6m (26m euros) in October 2020.

The 21-year-old has scored 12 goals and seven assists in 92 appearances for the Ligue 1 side, but repeated injuries have hindered his time at the club.

He played regularly in his first season in France but since then has started only 18 out of 78 Ligue 1 matches, coming off the bench in a further 27.

Despite only playing 1,285 minutes in Ligue 1 last season, the equivalent of 14 full games, only Real Madrid's Vinicius Jr and Lionel Messi, then at PSG, completed more dribbles than Doku's 96 in Europe's top five leagues last season.

"Doku is, in my opinion, the biggest talent in Belgium," said journalist Reulens. "Too bad he had many injuries at Rennes but the last six months he made some progression on that."

"Mahrez was a slower, more jinky player that held on to the ball. Doku is a more dynamic player, who likes to attack on the outside.

"It's a little bit different to what we're used to seeing from City, normally they're a team who controls the ball and pass, pass until the ball's in the back of the net.

"I think Pep's always looking at how he can elevate his team from last season to this and what they can do a bit differently and add. There's no doubt he's a very skilful individual player who is gonna cause a lot of problems."

Premier League Manchester City Ligue 1