Liverpool have an embarrassment of riches in forward positions ahead of next season and it could be one of their more recent match-winners who could suffer the most as the summer transfer window creeps into view
Ever since he arrived at Anfield, the winger has never quite been able to establish himself in the first team under Jurgen Klopp having become nothing more than a squad player. The Japanese international was a bargain £7.5m signing from Red Bull Salzburg in the 2020 summer transfer window and waxed lyrical about the opportunity to complete a switch to Merseyside.
Speaking with the Reds’ official website, he said: “It has been a dream, my dream to become a Liverpool player. And I’m so excited that the moment has come true.
“To play in the Premier League was one of my targets. I think this is the top-class league in the world; I was thinking if my career as a footballer progressed smoothly, someday I would be able to play in the Premier League. But I never thought I would be able to play in this team and I’m really happy about it. I’m looking forward to it.”
Since then, he has made just 55 appearances for the Reds – only 21 of those being starts. That is a bafflingly low count for a player of such talent.
After all, the 27-year-old’s goal record is actually very good. In that limited time, he has scored 14 goals and was the Reds’ top scorer in both the Carabao Cup and FA Cup this season – Liverpool eventually going on to win both of those competitions against Chelsea at Wembley Stadium.
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Of course, it is not hard to see why the forward has seen opportunities at a premium on Merseyside. Faced with severe competition from the likes of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, it is certainly understandable that Minamino has failed to forge himself a regular starting role.
To his credit, the Japanese has gone elsewhere to look for opportunities having joined Southampton on-loan for the second-half of the 2020/21 campaign so there cannot be an accusation that Minamino is just happy to make up the number at Anfield.
Having said that though, he has seen teammate Luis Diaz potentially set the blueprint for how to break through under Jurgen Klopp. After moving to Merseyside from FC Porto in the January transfer window, the Colombian has become one of the first names on the teamsheet.
The 25-year-old has already made 24 appearances for the club – just under half of Minamino’s total amount for the Reds – scoring six and teeing up a further five. That form has seen the former Red Bull Salzburg man fall even further down the pecking order and potentially lose his opportunity of becoming an automatic pick at Liverpool.
The Reds then now face a tricky decision over whether to retain Minamino or instead allow him to depart the club. Ahead of the summer window opening, Jurgen Klopp has never hidden his admiration of the forward.
After the Japanese had found the net against his former club in the Reds’ 2-1 victory against Southampton in midweek, the German said: “It is pretty much a crime that Takumi Minamino does not play more often (Alex) Oxlade who is in fantastic shape but not in the squad very often, Harvey (Elliott) didn’t play for a long time, Curtis (Jones) didn’t play for a long time and all these boys deliver, and deliver and deliver, it is just unbelievable.”
So whilst Minamino has not been forgotten by Klopp, it appears that both the Reds and the Japanese international may need to look out for a route out of Anfield in order to send a reminder to others about his ability.