Takumi Minamino is currently playing himself into a Liverpool future. The 26-year-old scored again on Thursday.
Takumi Minamino went into this pre-season in a difficult position. It was hard to see how he had a Liverpool future after what can only be called a disappointing spell with Southampton.
The 26-year-old spent the back end of last season on the south coast but struggled. Minamino had his moments, certainly, but couldn’t quite click on a regular basis.
And so he returned to Liverpool in largely the same position he had been. That isn’t a good one.
Minamino rarely plays and doesn’t shine when he gets on. He’s looked at least a level below the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota.
But we’ve got to say, he’s starting to look impressive this pre-season.
Does Minamino have a future here?
That’s now back-to-back goals in pre-season for Minamino. He scored against Hertha Berlin last week and followed it up with a fine finish against Bologna.
He’s been playing as a False 9/centre-forward and looking good, linking up well and showing good movement. His goal against Hertha showed that off.
Everyone focused on Naby Keita’s work for the goal and rightfully so – he won the ball back wonderfully and played a great pass for Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian’s run was ideal and his backheel to Minamino was perfection.
But it is worth mentioning that Minamino had the wherewithal to read what was happening, get in position and finish. Much as he deserves great credit for his run and finish against Bologna.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s pass was exquisite but the Japan international did everything right. He looked like a proper forward.
You can add in some solid pressing and defensive work, too. Minamino is ticking the boxes Liverpool wanted him to.
And so we do feel that Minamino is playing his way into a role next season. He looks at home in that central role, giving us hope that things might have clicked into place for him.
We’ve seen Jurgen Klopp use Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain there this pre-season and Minamino might fancy his chances of usurping his as Firmino’s backup. On these last two displays, you’ve got to say there’s at least a chance.