Then, news of a deal sheet signed by both clubs, giving them two extra hours to complete the transfer beyond the nominal 11PM GMT deadline.
As the minutes ticked past and the end of the extension neared, it might have been fair to wonder whether the deal had collapsed. Then, minutes before 1AM in the United Kingdom, Southampton announced the transfer.
They took to Twitter to ask their fans, “まだ起きていますか?” in Japanese—or “Are you still awake?” in English.
“I am very pleased to welcome Takumi to our squad for the rest of this season,” came the message on Saints’ official website from manager Ralph Hasenhüttl that soon followed.
“He will help provide another good attacking option, and is importantly the right profile of player for us.”
With Hasenhüttl previously coaching at RB Leipzig and Minamino previously playing for RB Salzburg, both clubs in the RB network that take a similar approach to the game and one that Hasenhüttl has carried over to Southampton, it’s hard to think of a better fit.
Whether that means he might get a chance to adjust to the English game, earn minutes, and perhaps return to Liverpool to play a role in the 2021-22 season is a mystery.
However, if there’s a club in the Premier League that seems suited to at least getting him back on track—and where he could make a significant impact on the rest of their season—it’s the one he’s joining, and we wish him luck.