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Early signs tease Takumi Minamino will be vital for Liverpool next season

Takumi Minamino’s Liverpool career is yet to take flight despite impressing on numerous occasions following his £7.25 million [BBC] move from RB Salzburg in January.

Considering he recently became only the third Japanese player in history to become a PL champion we suppose he can’t be doing too badly and there is a case to be made regarding what is to come from the talented forward.

Minamino, 25, is still yet to register a goal or assist for his new club side yet there are reasons for his manager Jurgen Klopp to be happy at the early signs of promise.

Since signing, he has managed to clock up 10 appearances for the English, European and world champions and was eligible to qualify for a Premier League medal.

His performances against Everton and Newcastle were arguably the most encouraging and conveniently both took place when the Japan international was in Liverpool’s starting line-up.

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WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 23: Jurgen Klopp the head coach / manager of Liverpool and Takumi Minamino of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool FC at Molineux on January 23, 2020 in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by James Baylis – AMA/Getty Images)

Early signs are promising

Minamino is largely more effective when he is allowed to grow into the game and adjust to the tempo and pace of the opposition before asserting a stronghold.

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At Goodison Park, Minamino was handed his full Premier League debut on the right of Klopp’s three-pronged attack. It was the forward’s counter-pressing that regained possession and led to Roberto Firmino dragging a decent opening wide.

Similarly to the Brazilian, Minamino is an intelligent footballer, who loves to drop deep and express himself with his link-up play with his best work occurring when he drifts into central areas rather than hanging about out on the touchline.

One potential glaring weakness in comparison to Firmino is that Minamino lacks the No.9’s natural physical prowess but this is something that can be timely addressed during the off-season in an attempt bulk up with extra gym work ahead of Liverpool’s title defence which is due to commence from September 12.

Minamino’s development and promise could also have played a factor in Liverpool’s decision that they simply couldn’t justify spending £54 million on Timo Werner in the current financial climate. It also showcases that the club don’t intend on sending their newest recruit further down the pecking order.

After all, in his Champions League auditions for Salzburg, his statistics are very pleasing on the eye.

In just six European outings, Minamino was able to produce three assists and registered two goals. His performance against Liverpool at Anfield was one of the most exciting showings from an opposition player in some time after Minamino bagged an assist and scored at the home of his future employer.

Another impressive aspect of his game is that he averaged two key passes per game during Salzburg’s short-stinted European campaign according to WhoScored.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – JULY 26: Takumi Minamino of Liverpool controls the ball during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool FC at St. James Park on July 26, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Next challenge?

Perhaps Minamino’s critics have come due to the almost-impossible task of attempting to replicate the attacking genius of Liverpool’s pedigreed front-three each time he takes to the field.

It is unrealistic for anyone to expect Minamino to reach that level anytime soon as each of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Firmino have comfortably established themselves amongst the world’s best players.

For Minamino, the next challenge will be efficiently easing the workload where he can whether that takes place in the league, Europe or in the cup competitions.

The 2020/21 campaign will likely test the bulk of Klopp’s squad to their physical limits as effectively the team will be playing twice a week for the foreseeable future which is why players like Minamino could become invaluable assets to the Reds next season.

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