Takumi Minamino: What Liverpool should expect from January transfer target shining at RB Salzburg

The Japan international is one of Europe’s most in-demand players

Jack Rathborn
Thursday 12 December 2019 11:01 GMT
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Klopp says Fabinho 'needed time' to adapt to Liverpool team

Liverpool are pushing ahead with plans to buy Takumi Minamino in January and have a deal agreed for the Japanese international.

It appears to be a potential bargain for the attacking midfielder, with a £7.25 million release clause.

Minamino is seen as “the true star of Salzburg”, according to members of the Austrian club’s hierarchy.

And Jurgen Klopp will be familiar with Minamino, having seen him close up in the Champions League this season.

Get to know a bit more about 24-year-old below.

What style of player is Minamino?

Bursting with energy, Minamino swarmed the Reds throughout both group stage games this season. His infectious energy is fundamental to the way Salzburg play and how they almost upset both the Reds and Napoli to progress to the last 16.

Pestering the opposition’s holding midfielders to force turnovers, Minamino appears certain to be a neat fit in a Klopp side. Able to spark counter-attacks to release Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, his signing should allow Liverpool to stretch teams more.

A hunger to go beyond the striker bodes well too, given Roberto Firmino’s comfort at dropping deep, with Minamino regularly collecting a return ball in behind defences.

Under Marco Rose, Salzburg mostly played in a 4-4-2, but now with Jesse Marsch the side most often resembles 4-2-2-2, which has seen Minamino become more central to the side’s pattern of play. He is integral to moving the ball quickly from defence to attack, usually through the middle channel of the pitch in congested areas.

Liverpool are pushing to sign Minamino

Will he start for the Reds?

Despite an obvious transition to come, there is no reason why Minamino could not fit right into the Liverpool line-up. His work rate could see Klopp accommodate him in the midfield three, though expect a slower transition given the emergence of Naby Keita this season and the option of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Remember, too, Minamino started out as a centre forward, meaning he could also swap in for any of the front three when Klopp looks to rotate his side.

Journey to Salzburg

Born in Osaka, Japan, Minamino started his career with Cerezo Osaka, initially as a centre forward, with a debut in 2012 as a 17-year-old. After a mid-season move to Salzburg in 2015 for £720,000, he settled quickly and has maintained steady production with double figures in goals in each of his four full seasons at the club.

Production

Minamino’s production has been highly consistent since moving to Salzburg, scoring 64 goals in 199 appearances, with 44 assists. His best total, in 2016/17 and 2018/19, was 14 goals in all competitions, but with eight already in the current campaign, a career-best total is within reach.

Liverpool can also expect a player willing to take aim whenever afforded the opportunity, after averaging 2.8 shots per game at goal in this season’s Champions League. Moreover he is completing 2.8 dribbles per match, placing him in the upper echelons of Europe’s most dangerous players with the ball at their feet. An exciting, versatile player who already has considerable experience with 284 club appearances and 22 international caps (and 11 goals) for Japan.

What Salzburg think of Minamino

Christoph Freund, sporting director of the Austrian champions, told The Independent: “He is an outstanding player with an outstanding personality.

“The big clubs have been watching him and if I was them, I’d have no hesitation to sign him. Takumi is ready to make the next step in January.”

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