Takumi Minamino is 31 games into his Liverpool career but still feels like a new signing. That wasn’t exactly the plan.
Takumi Minamino has been on Liverpool’s books for 18 months now. What a strange 18 months it’s been.
He arrived at a team in January 2020 that had effectively won the title already. Then the world collapsed two months later, meaning Minamino’s first actual run with the side came without fans in what was essentially a series of friendlies.
He didn’t get a proper pre-season and then we then barely saw him over the first half of last season, while he spent the second with Southampton.
The result is strange. Minamino has been around for quite a while now but doesn’t actually feel like part of the squad. We’re still waiting to see what kind of player he is – and what his role should be.
Minamino – like a new signing
Usually, ‘like a new signing’ means a player will return from injury and ‘add’ something to the squad. That’s not the case here. Minamino feels like a new signing because we’ve barely seen him.
We’re at 31 games for Liverpool, though few have been starts. And that’s part of the problem. Minamino just hasn’t broken into this squad, let alone the first-team, as Jurgen Klopp sticks with his Champions League winners.
And so we look at the player as if he could suddenly click. Things looked good in pre-season, for instance.
The real question is whether that’s true or not. Have we seen enough at this point or is Minamino really like a new signing who just needs a chance?
Bizarrely, Minamino’s last start for the Reds was a 7-0 victory over Crystal Palace in which he played very well. But then Liverpool started to struggle, Klopp reverted back to those he trusts, and the 26-year-old left on February 1st.
That, in a lot of ways, shows the battle Minamino faces. Even when things go well for him, they’re not necessarily in his hands and he can be out of the side in an instant.
Is he ever going to get enough chances to actually play his way into a Liverpool future? Minamino is fifth-choice at best as a forward – hardly a role that brings plenty of games.
Liverpool do look set to keep him around, though. It’ll be something of a final chance for the Japan international – he certainly won’t feel new in a year.
He’ll need chances, presumably coming in the cups. Assuming he does get them, we’ll quickly get our answer to whether Minamino is actually a ‘new’ player or not.
This was his first pre-season with the club, after all. If he still can’t look like part of the squad after this, there’s likely no real hope Minamino ever will.