When Takumi Minamino signed for Liverpool last December, there was a genuine buzz surrounding his arrival. It seemed like another coup for Michael Edwards and the recruitment team, especially after the player came to Anfield and completely bossed the proceedings for RB Salzburg.
And then things got weird.
As is often the case with new signings under Jurgen Klopp, the player couldn’t quite come to grips with Liverpool’s distinctive playing style. Moreover, the team’s on-field success—winning 26 of the first 27 league matches—meant that there was little need to try to force the issue. And then COVID happened, and all football stopped.
Welcome to Liverpool?
A year on, and it started to feel as if there wasn’t a place for Taki in the team, even in the midst of a ridiculous injury crisis.
However, in the last few weeks, things have started to come together for Minamino. He’s been deployed as a midfielder several times, looking increasingly comfortable in the role. He’s also looked more and more dangerous while attacking. In fact, he was a questionable VAR decision away from bagging the winner in the last Champions League Group Stage match against FC Midtjylland. And last weekend—on the anniversary of his signing—he finally scored his first league goal.
Now, Minamino has opened up about some of the struggles he’s had since joining.
“A lot of people, including the manager and the staff, supported me,” Taki told the official club website. “Thanks to them, I managed to live my life during the lockdown. Although it was a difficult time, a lot of people supported me, and in this sense, I think Liverpool Football Club have a wonderful team of people.”
The timing of his signing and COVID also means that he has had only limited experience playing in front of the famous Anfield crowd. But he still feels the power of the old stadium.
“When we play at Anfield, I don’t know the reason, but we always feel that we can win. I don’t know why. The stadium always gives us power. It is very sad that we can’t have [more] fans in the stadium. I hope they can come back to see our play as soon as possible.”
Minamino hopes that his goal is the first of many, and that he can kick on, especially with the games coming “thick and fast” during the holiday season.
“I am looking forward to it very much. Because there are two games in a week, I will have more chances to play games and I am happy about it. We suffer a lot of injuries now, so a player like me needs to work harder for the team. I would like to prepare myself well and achieve a result if I am given a chance.”
Let’s hope for a few more good performances—and even more goals—from Taki.