Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Klopp's recent formation change offers Minamino long-term Liverpool hope

Takumi Minamino’s move to Liverpool has seen limited opportunities so far.

That’s through no fault of his own. He has scored three goals and has registered one assist during eight appearances for the Reds so far this season.

In the few chances he has had at Liverpool, Minamino has done really well, and this bodes well for the future.

Minamino has come off the bench during four of Liverpool’s six Premier League matches so far this season, and was only an unused substitute against Leeds United and Everton.

He has yet to start in either the Champions League or Premier League despite impressing off the bench during Liverpool’s 1-0 win in Amsterdam last week against Ajax.

While the Japanese international hasn’t been entrusted as of yet to start in the two premier competitions in club football, manager Jurgen Klopp made one tactical call against Sheffield United which gives Minamino hope.

Liverpool’s Japanese forward Takumi Minamino runs with the ball during the UEFA Champions League Group D first-leg football match between Ajax Amsterdam and Liverpool FC at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam on October 21, 2020. (Photo by Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP) (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)

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Tactical shift

For the first time in the Premier League this season, Liverpool switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation incorporating four attacking players into the side.

This came against Sheffield United as Klopp looked to counteract Chris Wilder’s use of five defenders during the 2-1 victory last weekend.

This made up an attacking quartet of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota.

It is this shift in a forward-minded approach which could give Minamino his best chance of regular game time.

Liverpool’s insistence of a front-three does not currently suit him at present because of the alternatives in the squad and his inability to thrive in wide positions.

Both Salah and Mane are considered undroppable given the fact they are among the best forwards in world football while Klopp has utilised Firmino in the starting XI more than any other player since he took charge of Liverpool in 2015.

Because of this, Minamino has not had a chance to stake his claim.

Playing an attacking four suits Minamino better because he can showcase the best parts of his game with sufficient forward options around him.

It will take time to master, but from a simple numbers perspective, fitting four profound goalscoring options certainly enhances the likelihood of Liverpool finding the back of the net on a more regular basis.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 01: Takumi Minamino of Liverpool battles with Cedric Soares of Arsenal (R) and Rob Holding of Arsenal (L) during the Carabao Cup Fourth Round match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on October 1, 2020 in Liverpool, England. Football Stadiums around United Kingdom remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

What next for Minamino?

Liverpool could rotate the side as early as tonight and bring Minamino into the team to face FC Midtjylland at Anfield.

He will be fired up and determined to prove a point that he does have what it takes to succeed at the home of the Premier League champions.

After all, he was signed as a long-term option rather than an instant fix. Based on the early evidence, we will need to be patient with Minamino similarly to how supporters were with Andy Robertson, Fabinho and Naby Keita who all took their time before breaking into the team.

That’s why looking beyond this upcoming week, Klopp’s decision to make Liverpool more unpredictable through the use of a 4-2-3-1 formation a form of encouragement for the long-term prospects of Minamino.

Liverpool need to find a way to fit the former RB Salzburg talisman into the team especially if he is to one day take the mantle from Firmino as the club’s central attacking focal point of the team.

Continuously alternating between formation could be the first step in doing so, and Minamino should hold out that he will get his opportunity for a sustained run in the side.

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