Football Features

Why Liverpool target Takumi Minamino’s versatility makes him the perfect Jurgen Klopp player

By Ben Green

Published: 12:04, 12 December 2019

Liverpool have stepped up their interest in Red Bull Salzburg forward Takumi Minamino and are hopeful of completing a deal next month, according to reports.

The 24-year-old has impressed for Die Mozartstadter this season as the club sit atop the Austrian Bundesliga, and has caught the eye of Jurgen Klopp.

Minamino to Liverpool? Five things to know… 

  • Liverpool are “ready to accelerate their interest” in Minamino from Red Bull Salzburg, according to The Times.
  • Minamino is said to have a release clause of just £7.25m.
  • The Japan international has impressed in the Champions League against Liverpool this season.
  • He started on the wing and scored against the Reds at Anfield earlier this campaign.
  • Minamino moved to the tip of a midfield diamond on Tuesday and once again put in an eye-catching performance.

The Japan international is said to have a release clause of just £7.25m, which has caught the attention of some of Europe’s biggest clubs, but Liverpool are frontrunners for his signature.

Klopp has reportedly identified Minamino as his top target in the winter window and will be looking to stave off competition from Bundesliga, Premier League and Serie A clubs when the January window opens in the New Year.

Red Bull Salzburg have proven a dark horse in the Champions League this season, impressing with their free-flowing football, precocious young talent and stellar goalscoring rate.

And at the heart of those operations has been Minamino, who offers bundles of energy, versatility and an innate understanding of the game. At a glance, he appears the archetypal Klopp player, but what exactly would Minamino bring to Liverpool?

Style of play  

Much of the focus this campaign has naturally been on Erling Braut Håland, which is perhaps why the likes of Minamino, Hwang Hee-chan and Dominik Szoboszlai have gone slightly under the radar.

But, arguably the fulcrum of Salzburg’s slick, liquid football this season has, in fact, been Minamino. The 22-capped Japan international can unlock doors, pick a pass, and moves with an elegant gait — three attributes almost synonymous with the sort of player Klopp desires.

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Moreover, he has been deployed in just about every forward role for Salzburg this season, either on the flank — as demonstrated in Liverpool’s 4-3 Champions League win — at the tip of a midfield diamond — evident on Tuesday night – or even up-top.

That sort of versatility makes him ideal for Liverpool, a club who have no qualms playing James Milner as an auxiliary left-back, reinventing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as a dynamic box-to-box midfielder or playing Mohamed Salah as a false nine.

Minamino would be able to add depth on the byline, operate in a Roberto Firmino-esque role, or simply add a revitalised and more creative option in central midfield — plus, for £7.25m, Liverpool can’t really go wrong.

Where will he fit in Liverpool’s team? 

If Minamino were to complete a move to Liverpool then, as mentioned, we may see the Japan international play a completely different role week in week out.

Klopp has previously courted Minamino prior to this campaign, so the German clearly sees potential in the versatile forward.

Another reason Minamino is such a mouthwatering possibility for Klopp is that Uefa’s rules ahead of the 2018/19 season have seen the “cup-tied rule” abolished, so he would be able to play for Liverpool in the knockout rounds of the Champions League.

In all likelihood, Minamino won’t be able to supplant either Salah or Sadio Mane on the flanks, but he could offer a similar false 9 role to that of Firmino — or a more prominent goalscoring threat in central midfield.

He has already netted nine goals this season, including two in Europe, so he clearly has an eye for goal, plus he has registered a further 11 assists. This season, Minamino has also created the second-most chances of any Salzburg player in the Champions League (12) and made the most assists (3).

So, whether Klopp decides to utilise Minamino on the wing, up-top or as part of his insatiable central midfield trident, the slick forward is guaranteed to bring a new creative dimension to the reigning European champions.