Chelsea tried to sign Philippe Coutinho when he was just 14 years old, Brendan Rodgers has revealed.
Rodgers, now managing Leicester, joined the Blues’ coaching setup under Jose Mourinho in 2004, working as a youth coach and later reserves manager.
When the Northern Irishman took the reins at Liverpool, he decided to go back to one of his old targets, taking Coutinho to Anfield in 2013.
“When I was looking at the team in the first six months, there was certain ingredients we were missing,” Rodgers told The Beautiful Game Podcast.
“Philippe was one I knew from my Chelsea days, because we tried to get him to Chelsea when he was 14 but he had already committed to Inter Milan.
“We talked about him during the summer and kept tabs on him then all of a sudden he became available and at 19 I thought: ‘Wow, right, let's get this boy in’.
Coutinho flourished in five and a half seasons at Liverpool, scoring 54 goals in 201 games in all competitions before his controversial move to Barcelona midway through 2017-18.
Now, after three disappointing seasons between Barca and Bayern Munich, Coutinho is being linked with a return to the Premier League.
Rodgers and Leicester have been credited with an interest, as have Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea, among others.
If he does return to England, Rodgers believes Coutinho will remind people why Barca made him their most expensive signing ever.
“Most people probably look at him and think he's not for the Premier League but what a talent,” he said.
“He intimidates people when he has the ball with his quality.
“It's sad to see, I hear people talk him down at the moment. This boy is top and if he comes to this league, he'll show that. He's world class.”
Coutinho’s agent, Kia Joorabchian, said in mid-May that no talks had been held with any other clubs and that he was focusing on recovering from his recent ankle surgery.
Since then, Bayern CEO president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has confirmed that the Bundesliga leaders had not activated their purchase option, and that the clause to buy him has now expired.