Elano was working as Santos assistant coach in early 2017 when he heard how a lot Liverpool have been keen to pay for the membership’s new wonderkid Rodrygo. He was not impressed in any respect.
“I went to the board and mentioned, ‘No, no, we won’t let him depart for this,'” the previous Manchester Metropolis midfielder tells BBC Sport.
“It was a 3m euro provide solely and the talks have been already at a complicated stage. It was just about a finished deal. That they had a verbal settlement however I insisted, ‘We won’t do that’.
“He was simply 16 years previous again then and, though the staff had excessive hopes for him, it was not clear but when he could be enjoying for the senior facet. So I went to Rodrygo and informed him, ‘We’ll promote you quickly. You will have my phrase.’
“A short time after, I ended up taking cost as a caretaker supervisor and so, a lot ahead of anticipated, I might do what I had promised him. I introduced him to coach with us and gave him his first minutes as an expert footballer.”
Finally, Rodrygo agreed to signal a brand new contract and stayed with the Brazilian giants for an additional season.
In mid-2018, nonetheless, he lastly left Santos, however not for Liverpool.
As an alternative, he signed for Actual Madrid after the Spaniards got here knocking with a 45m euro bid.
Now, when each groups meet in Paris for the Champions League remaining on Saturday, the ahead will likely be on the opposing facet of long-time admirer Jurgen Klopp.
Rodrygo has proved essential on Actual’s epic journey to the Stade de France, scoring 5 objectives, together with two objectives in simply over a minute in stoppage time within the 3-1 comeback win over Manchester Metropolis in arguably the best semi-final in historical past.
Such is the hype across the 21-year-old this season that he has been dubbed ‘Mr Champions’.
It stays to be seen whether or not he’ll return to hang-out Liverpool.
Recognition at a youthful age than Neymar
The softly spoken and down-to-earth Rodrygo isn’t any stranger to the limelight regardless of his tender years.
At 11, he grew to become the youngest Brazilian participant to signal with Nike, beating the earlier report of 13 that belonged to Neymar, one other Vila Belmiro product.
That very same yr, Rodrygo gave his first interview and was invited to affix Pele and different legends when Santos celebrated their centenary anniversary.
He has by no means let fame get to his head, although, with a lot of the credit score going to his dad and mom.
A second-tier right-back for many of his life, his father Eric Goes dreamed about sharing the pitch with Rodrygo, however couldn’t fulfil it, so retired in 2016 to deal with his son’s profession.
“Rodrygo by no means frightened about being like Neymar or another participant from Santos,” says Elano, who has made a promising begin as a supervisor again dwelling.
“He needed to jot down his personal story and all of us knew the potential for that was there. Maybe individuals who do not know him cannot inform that, however he has a robust character. That is key for any athlete’s success.
“He was made for the large phases. He would not really feel the stress. He was nonetheless going to high school when he scored his first objective within the Copa Libertadores. It is not each day that you simply see one thing like that occuring.”
Actual Madrid deal was sealed in Liverpool
Rodrygo is having fun with his finest season for Actual and, after profitable La Liga and the Spanish Tremendous Cup, needs to complete it with the Champions League trophy.
Enjoying in opposition to Liverpool will likely be further particular not solely as a result of he nearly signed for them, however as a result of the entire operation that led him to the Bernabeu passed off within the English metropolis too.
In 2018, Santos’ then president Jose Carlos Peres was in Liverpool with the Brazil staff and, on the eve of a World Cup warm-up match in opposition to Croatia, Actual sporting director Juni Calafat obtained in contact asking him if they may meet in a Starbucks cafe subsequent to their resort.
As soon as Peres arrived, Calafat pulled his pill out and made a video name to president Florentino Perez. The entire dialog didn’t final greater than half an hour. It was clear cash wouldn’t be a difficulty to signal Rodrygo this time.
The next day, they watched the Brazil recreation collectively in a field at Anfield and finalised the paperwork for a deal that will be formally introduced every week later.
Regardless of curiosity from Paris St-Germain, Bayern Munich and Barcelona, Rodrygo was by no means doubtful about his choice. He had watched Actual beat Liverpool 3-1 within the Champions League remaining that yr and had made his thoughts up.
They haven’t received it since. It’s now as much as ‘Mr Champions’ and firm to alter that in Paris.