It’s difficult to believe that after recent Premier League, Champions League and Club World Cup triumphs that Jurgen Klopp’s decision making is still questioned when it comes to transfers.
Once again, Liverpool have maintained the urge to splash out heavily following yet another season of supreme success.
We persistently called out for the signing of Timo Werner only for the German international to join Chelsea while supporters face a similar scenario regarding persistent reports linking Thiago Alcantara with a move to Anfield.
Klopp has maintained from the start that the club cannot justify throwing the cheque-book around amid the financial ramifications following the pandemic.
The German manager called for the club to look at internal solutions to improve squad depth for next season and off the evidence of Liverpool’s most recent performance, the boss has certainly done that.
Takumi Minamino has been one of the standout beneficiaries of Liverpool’s 2020/21 pre-season and his weekly improvement has been on such an upward trajectory that all of a sudden the Japanese international looks like a new signing ahead of the club’s upcoming title defence.
Considering Liverpool spent just £7.25 million [BBC] on the 25-year-old, Minamino has often been overlooked since his January arrival.
However, since pre-season began last month, Minamino has been a man on a mission. Make no mistake about it, the former RB Salzburg has finally arrived.
The versatile forward was perhaps judged a little too prematurely given since his arrival he has had to endure a global pandemic despite only months in an entirely new country.
Minamino’s mental toughness has come to the fore since his Liverpool arrival and his rewards are being met with tangible examples of improvement.
Having come off the bench to score his first Liverpool goal in the Community Shield against Arsenal last weekend, Minamino was the star of the show during the club’s final pre-season outing.
Minamino was on the scoresheet once again as Liverpool ran riot during a 7-2 victory against Blackpool and former under-23s manager Neil Critchley during a friendly match at Anfield.
A sign of things to come?
Similarly to Roberto Firmino, Minamino is an intelligent footballer, who loves to drop deep and express himself on the ball with his effective link-up play occurring best when he drifts into central areas rather than hanging about out on the touchline.
His physical prowess was called into question during his initial few games but off the evidence off recent performances it has become apparent that a few extra gym sessions have been incorporated into Minamino’s training regime.
Against Arsenal, Minamino was stationed alongside the club’s pedigreed front-three in a 4-2-3-1 system that allowed Minamino more time and space to break between forward lines.
Klopp opted for an alternate approach against Blackpool as Minamino was deployed behind Firmino in a No.10 position that hasn’t really been seen at Anfield since the departure of Philippe Coutinho.
Both Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold were missing on international duty which meant Klopp needed more creativity from his midfielders.
When Liverpool had their backs to the wall, Minamino stood up to the mark to provide the Premier League champions that spark that was missing in the opening 20 minutes that saw Klopp’s side fall two goals behind.
Minamino played provider and beneficiary to Firmino as both attack-minded players scored and provided for Liverpool.
Considering the season is just a week away, Minamino’s performance was a timely reminder that Klopp certainly knows what he is doing when it comes to the club’s transfer approach.
Liverpool’s title defence will commence in just seven days time and if players like Minamino continue where they left off from pre-season, the Reds will certainly be a force to be reckoned with once again.
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