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Shrewsbury Town's Josh Vela recalls £1 million Liverpool bid ahead of big FA Cup tie

Midfielder Josh Vela will be one of Shrewsbury Town's key men heading in tomorrow's FA Cup Third Round clash at Anfield - however if his career had taken a different path he could have potentially been lining up in the opposite squad.

Josh Vela of Shrewsbury Town (AMA)
Josh Vela of Shrewsbury Town (AMA)

Nine years before Vela signed for Salop - he was putting pen to paper on his first professional contract at the Trotters and it was around this time rumours emerged that Liverpool, who were looking to sign up some of the countries top young talent, were circling.

It transpired that the Reds tabled a £1 million bid for the then 17-year-old prospect - but the bid was rejected by Wanderers.

Vela didn't find out about the bid until later in his Bolton career and he remained at the club until 2019 before signing for Hibernian. Speaking to the Liverpool Echo ahead of tomorrow's cup tie at Anfield, the midfielder explained that despite going on to forge a good career for himself - he does think how differently it might have panned out had the bid been accepted.

He said: "There’s always that line, even now, that they had a bid rejected. I never felt pressure off it, I was only a young kid and had no fear back then.

“It always comes up in interviews and stuff like that though, about this £1m bid. You never know what could have happened.

“I have forged a decent career for myself in the Football League. I’ve played in the Premier League, the Championship and League One. I’ve never dropped below League One so that is a good stat for myself.

“I’m still only 28, you never know what could happen. Hopefully I can get back in the Championship, we’ll see what happens. But you do wonder.

“The club kept it from me. It was a strange one to find out. It would be a hard decision to turn it down if the club had told me they had accepted the bid.

“I was quite happy at Bolton, I was settled there, but you never know what could have happened in my career if I had joined Liverpool at that time.”

Rumours again emerged in 2015 that the Reds were interested in signing Vela - after he impressed in an FA Cup tie for Bolton but no concrete bid came in.

He added: “I remember it coming out after the game, saying they were watching me and stuff like that.

“I remember Neil Lennon making a couple of jokes after the game. Tell you agent to stop putting stuff in the media that Liverpool want you!” and stuff like that.

“I don’t think it was anything much but it was in a couple of papers."

After just six months in Scotland, Vela returned to England in January 2020 to sign for Salop but injury ruled him out of the FA Cup clash with the Reds later that month and the subsequent replay at Anfield.

So when the draw for this year's third round paired the Shrews with Jurgen Klopp's men, it's safe to say Vela and his team mates were overjoyed at the chance to have another crack at the former Premier League champions.

He added: "We’ve got a WhatsApp group and everyone was buzzing. I didn’t know that we’d drawn them until someone put it into the group.

“The chat just went crazy and everyone was putting in GIFs about Liverpool and stuff like that.

"We’re going to be going to Anfield to play against one of the best teams in the country and everyone is excited. We’re all looking forward to it.”

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