Takumi Minamino has been handed an immediate baptism of fire for Southampton following his loan switch from Liverpool this week. The 26-year-old forward starts his first match under Ralph Hasenhuttl – and Kopites have reacted on Twitter.
The Saints take on Newcastle United at St James’ Park in a 15:00 GMT kick-off. Minamino appears part of a forward trident that also includes Danny Ings and Che Adams.
Minamino to Southampton
Minamino sealed a deadline-day switch from Monday on Monday and has gone straight into Hasenhuttl’s starting XI as Southampton look for a response following that crushing 9-0 defeat to Manchester United on Tuesday.
Having arrived from Austria at the beginning of last year, Minamino has found opportunities limited in Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League-winning squad. In just over 12 months, he has started just four league matches for the Reds.
His switch from the north-west to the south coast is a path well-furrowed in the opposite direction in recent years, with players such as Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane trading Southampton for Liverpool in recent years.
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Speaking ahead of today’s game against Newcastle, Hasenhuttl revealed that he had discussed Minamino’s potential with Klopp and hailed the former RB Salzburg star’s progress ahead of his inaugural Southampton bout.
“I spoke with Jurgen,” the former Leipzig coach said . “He said he didn’t have the chance to give Minamino enough time to play. I’m sure when he played, he did good games and scored a few goals.
“He’s a very special player for me – not because of his physical strength but more of his way of playing football. He is very quick in his mind, has good decision-making, knows about our pressing style and hopefully a lot of running.
“He knows when you come to me you have to run a lot, but that’s not a problem for him. Although he didn’t play a lot in the past games, he’ll also need time to step up – but we had a good experience with Theo, who helped us immediately, and hopefully he does the same.”
It seems Hasenhuttl is intent, then, to offer Minamino exactly what Klopp could not – game-time.
Let’s see what the Anfield faithful had to say ahead of Minamino’s Southampton debut…