For a season a half, circa 2015, Takumi Minamino and Naby Keita were teammates at Red Bull Salzburg before Keita moved to RB Leipzig. Sadio Mané had left the Austrian club in 2014, moving to Southampton, overlapping briefly with Keita’s time at Salzburg but the two African players had formed a friendship that has only grown stronger since being reconnected at Liverpool.
Now, Mané and Keita are using that friendship power along with a mutual understanding of conversational German to help Minamino settle at Melwood.
Minamino is working on learning to speak English more proficiently but in the short term at least he’s got a couple of nice guys making sure he's not later to team meetings than Divock Origi.
“You know that you are part of the team,” said Minamino, “but because my English is not good enough yet their help has been really important.
“They are still helping me on some occasions and during the first days they taught me the team rules, things like what time the meetings started and how the team functions on a daily basis.
“At the moment I speak a lot with the players who can speak German.”
That would seem to give Jürgen Klopp an advantage when communicating with Minamino. Amongst the highly intense reality of Liverpool’s training, the ability of the manager to relay instructions quickly to his players would be of some importance.
Minamino’s involvement in Liverpool’s January matches will be a great personal encouragement. He is settling quickly into the squad and is already competing for a spot in one of the greatest football teams of all time.
“By playing in the best environment I learn a lot every day and I can improve myself. I am very happy about being here,” Minamino said.
“Even in the training sessions the level of focus and intensity is really high and the players’ motivation is also very high.”