In a world where football seems like a distant memory, it is important to reflect and analyse just how incredible Liverpool’s 2019/20 season has been.
Remarkably one of the most significant and unlikely moments for Liverpool this campaign came from a Japanese talisman who was on the opposing team under the lights at Anfield.
Takumi Minamino’s performance against Liverpool in the 4-3 win over Red Bull Salzburg clarified that Jurgen Klopp had to land the 25-year-old at Anfield.
The diminutive midfielder was outstanding as the Austrian champions were tantalisingly close to pulling off one of the great Anfield comebacks in recent years.
Surprisingly, Minamino has already been a lightning rod for criticism amongst admittedly very few supporters with claims that the player isn’t physically adept enough to cut it in England’s top-flight.
Since his £7.25 million [BBC Sport] move from Salzburg was struck back in January, Minamino has operated in a false nine and as a wide forward for the Reds.
We are yet to see the talented talisman in a role that suits his skills best, but this will all come with time. Before football came to an abrupt halt due to the ongoing pandemic, there were talks of utilising Minamino in more experimental roles once the title was mathematically won.
Should this unfolded, it would undoubtedly have provided him with more confidence and could have given Klopp a better understanding of how to get the best out of Minamino next season.
With Xherdan Shaqiri seemingly nearing an Anfield exit, Minamino could have essentially been identified as a perfect fit as another option in the right-forward option.
With Trent Alexander-Arnold on the same side, it could have allowed Minamino to drift inside and exploit space with the opposition’s defensive focus fixated predominately on the Englishman as opposed to Minamino.
It has become clear that we aren’t even close to seeing the player that saw Liverpool beat off competition from Bayern Munich and Manchester United to land the club’s only signing of the January transfer window.
The time off will give Minamino some breathing space and more time to adapt to the English lifestyle. Whether Liverpool were to even consider relooking at the 4-2-3-1 system that worked so well last season is another transitional option Klopp could have up his sleeve.
With Liverpool reportedly in the hunt for attack-minded players such as Jadon Sancho, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, it would suggest that Klopp is focussing on the evolution of his current squad following the manager’s decision to extend his contract at the club until 2024.
The Reds have forced their way back to the pinnacle of European football through the meticulous work off the pitch that has seen Liverpool uncover hidden gems that have gone on to become world superstars.
Minamino has been brought in for a similar purpose. It will take time, perhaps longer than many initially deemed but if there is one thing that has been vindicated during Klopp’s four-year Anfield reign, it’s that patience is a virtue.