What happened to Takumi Minamino? Jürgen Klopp’s newest signing has made four appearances for Liverpool since January but he suddenly wasn’t listed in the 18 at either Norwich City or Atlético Madrid.
Meanwhile, Minamino’s teammate at RB Leipzig, Erling Haaland, who made a similar jump to a top class team in January, has been a regular for Borussia Dortmund and getting loads of headlines for his goal-scoring prowess.
But Klopp insisted there is no sense comparing the former Leipzig players’ situations. The manager backed Minamino to earn a place in his side, just as others with slow starts have done, particularly Fabinho last season.
“The difference couldn’t be bigger,” said Klopp. “Erling Haaland made a perfect choice with Dortmund, and Taki made a perfect choice.
“Taki finds here a completely different situation. That’s normal. We have no problems, nowhere really (for him to start) particularly in an offensive position, but we need variation at moments.
“Taki tries everything. Against the ball he is top class, but if you ask him, although he doesn’t say it, he wants to do what we want him to do. But we want him to do what he does naturally.
“That’s the time we need, and you lose a little bit of quality in that period until you fight back (to your best).
“He knows how I see it, how I think about it, about the people who have had the same problems before. He is fine, is training really hard, but it’s a situation you can’t compare (with Haaland).”
Klopp and his coaching staff are thinking long-term. Minamino’s transfer was about the future. He’s come in and put in decent performances and Liverpool could use his creativity now, but if the manager isn’t forced to stick an unprepared Minamino onto the pitch then there’s no need to rush.
He’ll likely get back into the match day squad in a couple of weeks but it will probably be next season before we see anything close to a fully-integrated Minamino.