Takumi Minamino has produced a brilliant performance for Japan to serve as a timely reminder of his quality amid uncertainty over his Liverpool future.
The attacking midfielder opened the scoring against Myanmar on Friday morning before adding a second after the interval in a 10-0 rout.
Minamino’s formidable display in the World Cup qualifier comes after a frustrating season during which he was shipped out on loan to Southampton in January.
The 26-year-old managed just one goal in nine Premier League appearances for the Reds but showed glimpses of quality with two goals in his first three appearances for the Saints.
Liverpool signed Minamino from Red Bull Salzburg for just £7.65million in January 2020, a cut-price swoop which many considered to be a coup at the time.
But with just four goals and two assists in 31 games for Jurgen Klopp’s side, his future at Anfield is unclear.
Minamino’s latest performance for his country – for whom he has scored 13 goals in 28 games – is the latest evidence he could be a useful player in the Liverpool squad.
Klopp has relied heavily on his established front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane in recent seasons.
Diogo Jota’s arrival last year eased the burden on the trio somewhat, but there is still a lack of depth in the Liverpool attack, especially with Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi potentially leaving this summer.
Earlier this month, Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl suggested he would be keen to sign Minamino permanently.
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“I must say. He was a very lively factor in our game, in the games he played,” said the Saints boss.
“He not only scored fantastic goals but his mentality and his character really fit into our team. You can see why a club like Liverpool wanted to sign him.
“He did a good job here. We gave him a chance to show up. We will have a look what happens in the summer, we will see what Liverpool want to do. There are discussions going on but we will have a look in the summer.”
Klopp, meanwhile, recently insisted Minamino is an “important player” for Liverpool, but he also admitted minutes have been hard to come by for the former Salzburg ace.
“He’s done really well there and this is no surprise,” said Klopp of Minamino’s time at Southampton. “When we allowed him to go in January it was a tough call to make because he is an important player for us and will be again in the future, no doubt.
“But opportunities at that time had been short with us and therefore going to play somewhere else made sense for him and us.
” Southampton was perfect because of how Ralph plays and what he demands from his players.”