Liverpool are yet to give Takumi Minamino a real chance to shine but Saturday’s trip to Watford could be the time.
The Reds paid a reported £7.25m to sign Minamino at the beginning of January. He’s yet to start a Premier League game, however.
His only starts have come in the FA Cup, in fact. Firstly against Everton just a few days after he arrived and then away at Shrewsbury Town. Neither game was with the first-team.
Minamino did get 57 minutes away at Wolves but that was only as a substitute for the injury Sadio Mane. So in short, he’s still waiting for a proper chance – and Liverpool for a chance to learn about him properly.
But Watford away does represent a good chance to see what Minamino can do. That doesn’t necessarily mean starting him but giving him more than the nine minutes he got against Southampton.
Watford away is a test – Jurgen Klopp believes so, anyway – and thus Liverpool can learn from any performance he gives. That’s again unlike Southampton, where the Reds were several goals up by his introduction.
Importantly, the game also comes just a few days before Chelsea away in the FA Cup. Even if the entire first-team doesn’t start that one, taking anyone off early against Watford in order to play them on Tuesday gives a chance to Minamino.
Or perhaps Klopp does choose to rest some first-teamers so they can play in the cup. In that case, Minamino should definitely get an opportunity at Vicarage Road.
And so the timing could be right to give the Japanese international a real opportunity. He hasn’t had that yet, given his only substantial time with first-team players was on a ground as difficult as Molineux.
Hopefully, he can get some good time against Watford as it would be a great chance to see what Minamino can really do.