Takumi Minamino could take up the role of Xherdan Shaqiri – if Jurgen Klopp needs him to.
And it’s very possible that Klopp will need him to. The first leg against Atletico Madrid didn’t go to plan, after all, and things may need to change.
One possible change is to move to 4-2-3-1. It’s a formation that worked for Liverpool last season and could add the attacking impetus missing in Madrid.
But who is there to come in? Last season we saw plenty of Shaqiri in the right-hand role, allowing Mohamed Salah to thrive as a striker. The Swiss is injured, however, and certainly won’t play that second leg.
Liverpool did sign a player in January for £7.25m who can fill that void, though. Minamino looked dangerous against Liverpool in the right-hand position earlier in the season and he could do the same for the Reds next month.
Now, Klopp could instead go with Divock Origi as a striker and not move Salah at all. But if he doesn’t prove he can step up, Minamino can surely take the fourth spot in the forward line.
The Japanese international is certainly the closest Liverpool have to Shaqiri in the lineup. He’s able to drift inside and outside, much like the 28-year-old. And he suits that support role, much like Shaqiri, that Liverpool sometimes lack.
Salah and Sadio Mane look for goals, first and foremost, and that isn’t always what you need. Especially against a compact defence, players like Shaqiri and Minamino can offer the support work that breaks down teams.
And with Shaqiri unable to take his place like last season, Minamino could fill the void. And Klopp has four games before that second leg to find out if he can.