It’s a tale as old as time - a player gets signed to an already skilled and stacked team, and while their skills are well suited for the squad, there is little chance of them breaking through and getting a starting spot. The cycle has repeated in Takumi Minamino, signed in 2020 just before the pandemic became a pandemic. Poor guy was forced to move to a new city and stay inside his home for months, not training properly with the new squad he was added to.
Now that there is a new season, he’s getting a few more chances, but is still struggling to get some consistent playing time - despite scoring nearly every time he’s brought on. One can imagine the thoughts and emotions that brings up for a professional athlete.
“As a player I always want to play every match,” said Minamino to the Liverpool Echo recently. “I think a kind of frustration is common for the players (who don’t play) but I like to turn this frustration into positiveness with my attitude.
“I put in a lot of effort every day to play more and to get game time. I want to play more games and I want to prove to myself that I can do much better, so I use my frustration to turn everything positive.
“The manager always tries to keep the players’ motivation higher. When I’m not playing in a match he always speaks to me and helps keep my motivation high.
“He is always very fair to every player so I quite admire his management skills.”
We as fans are probably not as well versed on Klopp’s management style as the players themselves are, but from our perspective we know that he is a loyal manager that likes to stick with the players that perform best for him - that can be difficult for other player like Minamino, who also deserve the playtime.
Thankfully Liverpool have been able to go further than usual through the domestic cups, and Klopp himself has been a bit more flexible with rotation through this season, which means depending on Minamino a bit more - even as the Japanese international feels the clock ticking a bit.
“As a footballer the ages between 26 and 30 are your best time, the time when you can play at your peak as a player,” Minamino added.
“For myself at these ages I would like to play as many games as possible, but I am at the best club in the world and I can spend the best time of my career at this club.
“As I have said before, I would like to contribute to this club as much as possible. That is the best thing I can do.”
If the Reds can continue their form and being the only 98%+ vaccinated and protected squad, there should be plenty of matches for Minamino to take part in - including the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup on the horizon thanks to his equalizer against Leicester City on Wednesday night.
“I will be very happy if I can play in all the matches of this cup competition,” he said. “It will also be an important achievement for the team. It would be great if we can go on to the final and win the game.
“I have been given more game time in the Carabao Cup, which is a great opportunity for me. It is a chance to show what I can do and to prove myself and I am happy that I could contribute to the team’s wins. I hope I can continue to do more of the same.”
This writer particularly hopes to see more of Takumi.