Owen Hargreaves has told Optus Sport’s The Analysis Show that Takumi Minamino has a ‘perfect’ opportunity to lay down a marker Liverpool in the absence of Diogo Jota.
Minamino, 25, scored his first Premier League goal for the Reds during the 7-0 demolition against Crystal Palace – Liverpool’s biggest top-flight away win in their history.
Just over a year to the day since he signed from RB Salzburg for a bargain £7.25 million [BBC], Minamino is finally beginning to look settled in his role with the English champions.
The Japan international had made an indifferent start to life at Liverpool. Prior to the Palace clash, he had clocked up just 190 minutes of top-flight action.
With Jota sidelined until February as a result of a knee injury, Minamino has been given a huge opportunity to stake a claim in Liverpool’s forward line.
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And Hargreaves believes this is a chance that Minamino cannot afford to squander given the club he is representing.
“I think he is still trying to find his feet, and find his role,” Hargreaves said. “When you play in this Liverpool team, you’ve got to get numbers. To get numbers, you have to be the box. He is a really good player, presses well, takes the ball on the half-turn.
“He’s getting his opportunity because Jota is out, he can play in midfield, as a false nine or out wide. He’s not better than the front three of the midfield three, he’s a squad player. If he plays in 20 games a season, he can be perfect.”
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Rather than appearing nervous and lacking belief, Minamino had a point to prove, and played with purpose and confidence.
His first English top-flight league strike could not have been timed any better, with Minamino firing the opener at Selhurst Park inside three minutes.
It clearly did Minamino a world of good and felt like a huge weight off the player’s shoulders. As a result, he played with much more confidence and authority as Liverpool ran riot in the capital.
Jurgen Klopp deserves huge credit. It was a bold call from the manager to include Minamino in Liverpool’s starting XI, especially when you consider he was chosen to start ahead of Mohamed Salah.
At just 25-years-old, his best is still ahead of him.
The fixtures are still coming thick-and-fast for the Reds. Klopp has shown faith that while he may be someone who gets utilised irregularly, he is player he has the upmost trust in.
Let’s hope Minamino continues to vindicate his manager’s unwavering showcase of faith.
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