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Wataru Endō on First Six Months with Liverpool and Asian Cup Departure

Liverpool’s unexpected summer signing has quickly established himself as a key player for Jürgen Klopp’s title challenging Reds.

Liverpool FC v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

There’s probably nobody outside of the club—and perhaps nobody within it—who would have expected Liverpool to sign Wataru Endō when last season ended and the summer transfer window opened.

Liverpool’s surprise signing at defensive midfielder, though, has settled in and become a key part of Jürgen Klopp’s table-topping Reds at the half-way point.

Which now means Klopp and the coaching staff have to figure out how to cover for him when he heads off for a month with the Japan national team, something the player talked about before he departed.

“A little bit actually,” Endō said when asked if he has mixed emotions heading off to take part in the Asian Cup just as he’s settled in at Liverpool “But you know I need to play for my national team as well.

“But I think the last few games I’ve played for this club, I have shown why I am here, so I go to Qatar, hopefully get a good result, and then come back.”

This year’s Asian Cup runs from January 12th to February 10th, and Japan will be fully expected to advance to the knockout rounds by finishing top two in a group with Indonesia, Iraq, and Vietnam.

With the first knockout round wrapping up on January 30th, then, Endō will be gone for at least that long. Following the Round of 16, the quarter-finals are played on February 2nd and 3rd, the semis on the 6th and 7th, and the final on February 10th.

For Liverpool, that stretch includes Arsenal this weekend in the FA Cup, two legs against Fulham in the League Cup semis, and Bournemouth and Chelsea—on January 31st—in the league.

If Japan make the quarter-final, he would miss Arsenal away in the league on February 4th. If they make the semis or final, Burnley on February 10th is the final game he’s likely to miss.

“I’m really enjoying playing football in front of the Liverpool fans at Anfield,” Endō added of his time so far in England with the Reds. “I just try to do my best in every game and I’m so happy to be here.

“We are feeling great but this is just the start of the new year, so we have to stay focused and just try to get ready for every game coming.”

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