Liverpool scouted Takumi Minamino in Champions League and Austrian Cup matches before accelerating their pursuit of the Japan international… and Anfield chiefs believe they have unearthed a gem
- Liverpool signed Takumi Minamino for a cut-price £7.25million from Salzburg
- Anfield’s hierarchy believe they have found a gem in the Japanese international
- Minamino’s Champions League display against the Reds won many admirers
- The club sent scouts to watch him at further European and domestic cup games
Takumi Minamino officially became a Liverpool player on Thursday and Jurgen Klopp’s first reaction was to call the news ‘wonderful’ and ‘fabulous’.
Paying £7.25million for a player who has spent most of his professional career in Austria may suggest this is a minor deal but the reality is different.
Liverpool believe they have unearthed a gem and will hope the Japan international, 24, develops as much as two notable Red Bull Salzburg graduates.
Liverpool see a bright future for Takumi Minamino after he signed for £7.25m from Salzburg
Sadio Mane and Naby Keita both had stints in Salzburg and Red Bull are a club whom Liverpool have monitored in recent years, given the intense way they play and their ability to keep producing quality performers.
Minamino, who also attracted interest from Manchester United, has been on Liverpool’s radar for the last two years.
He joined Salzburg from Cerezo Osaka in 2015 and the versatile midfielder, who can play in a variety of positions, has thrived in the Alps.
The Japanese star scored Salzburg’s second goal against Liverpool in a 4-3 defeat in October
Liverpool supporters first got a glimpse of his ability when he swatted a wonderful drive into the Anfield Road net during a Champions League game this October. Salzburg lost that game 4-3 but won many admirers.
Minamino, who has taken Liverpool’s No 18 shirt, will join on January 1 and could wear it for the first time against Everton four days later in the FA Cup third round.
The pursuit of Minamino accelerated through early autumn and Liverpool had scouts at a number of games in which he starred.
Erling Braut Haaland, the hottest young striker in Europe, grabbed the headlines in Salzburg’s opening Champions League fixture against Genk in September after scoring a first-half hat-trick, but Minamino’s performance in orchestrating a 6-2 win was no less impressive.
Haaland scored a hat-trick against Genk but Minamino helped pulled the strings in a 6-2 win
A week later, in an Austrian Cup match against bitter rivals Rapid Vienna, Minamino capped a magnificent display — again with Liverpool scouts in attendance — with a goal in the final minute of extra-time to send his team through. His all-action, high-energy style will ensure that he fits right into Liverpool’s team.
He will add to the talent pool of advanced midfielders that includes Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri and is also a high-quality back up for Sadio Mane and Mo Salah in attack.
He was identified by Michael Edwards, the sporting director at Anfield whose efforts Klopp has been quick to praise, particularly for exploiting the release clause in his contract that enabled Minamino to move in January.
It is up to Minamino to seize his chance at Anfield but many have backed him to be successful
Someone with his ability should really command a fee in excess of £25million, so it is little wonder Klopp and his colleagues feel satisfied with the business they completed.
It is now up to Minamino, who had a medical on Wednesday and signed a deal to June 2024, to seize his chance.
‘Takumi is a very quick, very clever player, he finds space between the lines,’ said Klopp. ‘He is brave with the ball but also brave without the ball — a proper team player. He makes the best of himself for the benefit of others.
‘His Champions League experience is a big bonus. Coming from the club he does, we know he’ll be well coached. It is fantastic work by our football operations team.’
Jurgen Klopp called Minamino a ‘proper team player’ who is quick, clever and well coached