Liverpools forgotten man could finally become important player Jurgen Klopp enivsaged

Liverpool: The first six fixtures of the new Premier League season

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It is fair to say that Takumi Minamino’s time at Liverpool has hardly gone to plan so far. Liverpool were able to sign the forward from Red Bull Salzburg in January 2020 for a bargain £7.25 million, due to a release clause in his contract.

At the time, manager Jurgen Klopp labelled him a “wonderful signing” and outlined what he would bring to Liverpool’s attack.

“Takumi is a very quick, very clever player, he finds space between the lines,” Klopp said.

“He is brave with the ball but also brave without the ball – a proper team player. He makes the best of himself for the benefit of others.”

However, Minamino has struggled for game time at Liverpool, making just two league starts in his debut campaign as the Reds won their first ever Premier League title.

JUST IN: Klopp ‘wants two more signings’ with eight transfer targets admired

The following season, he found game-time equally hard to come by, again making just two league starts.

After being bought into the starting XI for a game against Crystal Palace in December, Minamino netted his first ever league goal for the Reds in a 7-0 win.

Speaking after that game, Klopp said of Minamino’s performance: “He played a top game today, nice finish and just is in a good moment. That’s what we want to use.

“I saw him in the dressing room now and he couldn’t avoid smiling all over his face. It’s a good moment. He’s in a really good place and helps us a lot.”

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However, he was then benched for Liverpool’s next seven league games, making just one substitute appearance late on against Burnley, and ultimately shipped out on loan to Southampton.

Klopp later said that he still views Minamino as an “important player” for Liverpool going forward, saying: “When we allowed him to go in January it was a tough call to make because he is an important player for us and will be again in the future, no doubt.”

He also conceded that he “didn’t give Minamino enough chances”, adding: “The only thing lacking was a couple of games in a row, that was difficult here and I would have loved to keep him to have the option. But Takumi is a long-term project, always was.”

Reports have claimed that Minamino could be sold this summer, but the player is keen to remain at Anfield.

Speaking to Atsuto Uchida (as per Goal), he said: “I don’t know what will happen, but for now, for the preseason, I’d like to go back to Liverpool and do my best there.”

In order for Minamino to be a success at Liverpool, he needs to be given a consistent run of games and if Klopp truly believes that the Japan international “is an important player” then he needs to be willing to give him that game-time.

Last season was something of an anomaly for Liverpool, with their injury problems at the back leaving Klopp unwilling to experiment in other areas of the pitch, as evidenced by the fact that Georginio Wijnaldum and Andrew Robertson featured in every single league game, while Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino missed just six between them.

This season, though, it is unlikely that lightning will strike twice and players like Minamino and Kostas Tsimikas who have not been afforded much of an opportunity could be given more of an extended chance to show their worth.

They just need to take the opportunity when it comes their way.

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