Liverpool Have Shown Patience With Takumi Minamino - He'll Repay Them When the Premier League Resumes

Takumi Minamino
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A week before Christmas, when Liverpool announced the signing of Takumi Minamino from Red Bull Salzburg, the Reds thought they'd pulled off the heist of the century.

£7.25m at a time when rivals were falling over each other to pay five times that for Erling Haaland. It looked as if they had done it again - another bit of outstanding transfer business for an absolute snip.

Five months on, you might be forgiven for thinking they've been left with egg on their face.

The Japan star has featured just seven times, and his only three starts have come in the FA Cup. He's yet to score a goal or register an assist.

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Concerns are only natural when a new signing fails to initially live up to their name, but with Minamino, it's important not jump the gun.

It's evident that Jurgen Klopp, after all - one of the best in the game when it comes to player-management and nurturing talent - has an unshakeable faith in him.

The perception is that Minamino barely had a look-in during his first three months with Liverpool prior to the COVID-19 outbreak taking hold, but in that time, he was left out of a match-day squad just twice - once in the FA Cup replay with Shrewsbury in which Klopp sacrificed his entire first-team squad.

When you compare that with standout left-back Andy Robertson, who was left out altogether 12 times in his own first three months at the club, the picture gets a little bit brighter. Exceptional circumstances aside, there is always an adjustment period, in which performances can waver.

Klopp's confidence in the player is such that he is reported to have cooled his interest in Werder Bremen's Milot Rashica, and it's fairly easy to see why. His tentative performances at Anfield as he treads water early on might have left a little to be desired, but you only have to look as far back as the Champions League group stage to see what the Japanese enigma is capable of in the right environment.

His dynamic performance in Salzburg's 4-3 brave defeat at Anfield in October - in which he showed all the incisive attacking qualities of Mohamed Salah at his best, but furnished with a crafty creative intelligence - he was so impressive and so in line with Liverpool's high-octane style of play that it left senior players calling out for his signing.

He scored once and assisted another, and it was far from a one-off performance. In the first half of this season, his astonishing attacking output - nine goals and 11 assists in 21 appearances - outstripped even Sadio Mané's record in the 2015/16 season; the Senegalese's last before swapping Salzburg for Southampton.

It's no wonder that Minamino's former manager Marsch - speaking on the Blood Red Podcast earlier this week - was sickened to have lost the 25-year-old for such a miniscule fee.

"The thing that hurt with Taki is that Liverpool got him way, way, way too cheap," Marsch said.

In the same interview, the American - who keeps in regular contact with his former talisman - also gave an insight into the player's state of mind, in doing so revealing another aspect of Minamino's personality that has likely endeared him to Klopp.

"He is happy [at Liverpool] - he has talked about training being good and the guys being good guys," he said. "Taki will only turn up every day and do everything possible to try to improve.

"He knows nothing will be given to him but he is willing to work for whatever - that’s his mentality."

In the context of this phenomenal season in which Liverpool have run away with the Premier League title at blistering pace, Minamino's arrival came at a turbulent time - and that's even before you consider the global pandemic which has stopped English football altogether for the time being.

With training resuming this week ahead of the Premier League's 17 June return, however, the break might well come as a blessing in disguise for Minamino - it has stolen the spotlight, allowing him a few extra weeks to bed in and train with his new team-mates outside of the limelight.

So when the season resumes, after the title is clinched, and with even the pressure of playing to expectant fans temporarily lifted, the stage will be set for a rejuvenated Minamino to heap the pressure on the established front three.

He'll have the right setting show everyone watching - albeit from the couch - exactly why we were right to get so excited when he was first pictured in a Liverpool shirt at Christmas.

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