Liverpool’s January signing Takumi Minamino has revealed the effect international teammate and former Manchester United star Shinji Kagawa had on the playmaker making the move to Anfield.
Minamino, 25, signed for the Reds last month from RB Salzburg following two glowing auditions against Liverpool in the Champions League in-which the Japan international scored at the home of the European during the dramatic 4-3 victory in September.
Jurgen Klopp was able to secure the talented midfielder for a bargain fee of just £7.25m [BBC Sport] after Liverpool activated Minamino’s release clause.
Minamino has so far featured just three times for Liverpool since his move following two FA Cup appearances and a Premier League baptism of fire after being thrown on to replace Sadio Mane early on during the 2-1 victory at Wolves last month.
Klopp has showcased that he intends to gradually introduce Minamino into the first-team setting similarly to how he did with Andy Robertson and Fabinho who both struggled to make an impact during early life on Merseyside.
Minamino has since revealed that he indeed did share a conversation with former Premier League duo Maya Yoshida and Kagawa.
It was the former United and Borussia Dortmund startlet who proved critical in convincing Minamino that Klopp was indeed the man to work under following Kagawa’s time in the Bundesliga with the German manager whom the duo both won back-to-back league titles.
“I spoke to Maya Yoshida at Southampton but I didn’t ask him about Liverpool,” said Minamino [ECHO] in Liverpool’s matchday programme against West Ham United.
“I just told him that I would be coming to the Premier League, but I never told him that it would be Liverpool! I also spoke to Shinji Kagawa as he had played for Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund, too.
“Klopp talked to me about Shinji and Shinji talked about Klopp and from that I could sense that they had a really good relationship.”
“Shinji said that Klopp was one of the best coaches in the world and now that I am here and working for him I have also realised he is one of the best coaches around. Two or three days after joining the club, [Klopp] said I could play anyway I wanted to play and just enjoy playing.
“As a player, I was really happy he said that. In the locker room, he is very good at motivating players, so I want to respond to his motivation, even in the practice sessions as well as in the actual games.”
“So the feeling I had about Klopp isn’t very different before and after I joined. Shinji said that he was very passionate on the pitch and that he tried to understand players and since I have been here, I can see that he is exactly like that.”
What RTK has to say
Liverpool’s recent transfer policy has proven that the club are the masters of finding hidden gems and turning them into global superstars.
Minamino seems no different following an excellent few years in Austria with Salzburg.
He was able to clock up 199 appearances for the Austrian Bundesliga champions scoring a credible 42 goals whilst registering an equally impressive 32 assists.
Adapting to Klopp’s philosophy and core values takes time and history would vindicate the notion. Both Robertson and Fabinho had to wait almost half-a-year before they could establish themselves as first-team regulars.
Minamino’s opportunity will come.