Real Madrid striker Rodrygo grabbed the headlines on Wednesday night after his two dramatic late goals against Manchester City helped complete one of the Champions League’s most remarkable comebacks. City led 1-0 and led 5-3 on aggregate before the Brazilian scored in the 90th and 91st minutes to take the tie into extra time. Karim Benzema then scored a penalty to send Madrid to Paris, where they will face Liverpool.
However, in an alternate reality, Rodrygo, who has scored five Champions League goals this season, including a crucial one in the quarter-final second leg against Chelsea to take the match into extra time, could have been fielding the Jurgen Klopp’s team. in the end.
According to his agent, Nick Arcuri, Klopp was keen to sign the Brazilian wunderkind when he was just 16 and playing for Santos on home soil. He had joined the club’s academy at age 10 and the Reds manager was reportedly so interested that he made a trip to Sao Paulo to find out more about Rodrygo’s talents.
“When Rodrygo went to sign his first professional contract with Santos, at the age of 16, a Liverpool manager called me saying that Klopp already knew the player, had seen the material and had already come to see Rodrygo in person,” Arcuri explained to Canal do Nicola.
“I had entered YouTube, searched for ‘brazilian talents’, Rodrygo had appeared and he was very young. He came to Brazil and he liked it. They contacted me, the manager of Liverpool wanted me to be his first signing, Rodrygo. I went to England, I sat in London, Liverpool has an office in London. I brought the proposal to Modesto [Roma Junior]then president of Santos.
“Modesto did not accept. It turned out that Santos did not want to sell Rodrygo and instead made the first professional contract. But it was Rodrygo’s first official proposal, he was 16 years old and it was Liverpool.”
Claims that Klopp wanted the Brazilian to be his first signing at the club are debatable, along with this apparent trip to visit Rodrygo in his homeland, but it seems clear there was interest from Liverpool.
Former Manchester City midfielder Elano managed Rodrygo at Santos in 2017 and supported Arcuri’s story. In 2019, he told ESPN: “There was a period where there was a very strong negotiation from Liverpool for him. [Rodrygo] leave when he was still very young. The values were very low but he wanted to go. Real’s offer later [the club confirmed his signing for £38m in 2018 with the player joining up a year later] was around 30 million euros [£25m] plus. I had a conversation with the people from Santos and said that the boy was worth it and that we should raise him because I would like to work with him. Thank God everything went well thanks to Rodrygo”.
The striker scored 17 goals in 80 games for Santos and since then has scored 17 of 103 for Real Madrid. There is no doubt that this campaign has been his breakthrough with eight goals and nine assists in 44 appearances. He had scored just nine in his previous 59 games and in Paris he hopes Liverpool will regret not upping him in 2017.
After Madrid’s victory last night, he said: “I am very happy to be able to score two goals in the semi-final and take Madrid to the place where it always belongs, the Champions League final, and win it. I couldn’t hear what my classmates were saying to me because I couldn’t believe what was happening. We were losing the game, my first goal in the 90th minute and we were dead and then what happened happened.”