Written By: @IFCChriss
Japanese superstar Takumi Minamino has experienced a mixed start to his Liverpool career, providing glimpses of his quality in numerous cameo displays, as well as in the few cup fixtures the Reds have played since his January arrival from Red Bull Salzburg.
The 25-year old forward is a mainstay in Jurgen Klopp’s matchday squad, but has struggled to accumulate regular minutes for the Premier League champions. Arguably Klopp’s most trusted asset, Roberto Firmino often starts in the unorthodox centre forward role deployed by the German coach.Embed from Getty Images
The Brazilian’s contributions out of possession cannot be ignored, in spite of that fact, his ending to Liverpool’s previous campaign, and beginning to the season currently underway have been sub-par for his standards. Firmino has appeared low on confidence inside the opposition box, and rather careless in possession at times.
The South American is certainly the embodiment of Klopp’s Liverpool, and will always boast the greatest off-the-ball contributions in the squad. However, healthy competition with a player who grew up on the other side of the globe, in Minamino, could be the catalyst for another dimension of Firmino’s game.
The Japanese playmaker can be likened to the Brazilian in that he prefers to operate between the lines, his ability to dribble with close-control has posed a constant threat for any defensive midfielder he has faced, showcased against Liverpool’s very own Fabinho Tavares, who had a rough night against RB Salzburg, attempting to contain the man who is now his teammate.Embed from Getty Images
Minamino recorded 108 goal contributions in less than 200 games for his former club and averages 0.5 goals a game for Japan, demonstrating his ability to consistently impact the scoresheet. This potency has been hinted at in his Liverpool career so far; he netted the equaliser against Arsenal in the Community Shield, and has averaged a goal contribution every 65 minutes in all competitions this season.
Jurgen Klopp has showed a willingness to provide strong competition for his front three with the recent signing of Diogo Jota from Wolves, in a lucrative £45m deal few days before the transfer window closed.Embed from Getty Images
The Thiago Alcantara deal also showcased new heights of ambition from the Liverpool boss, exemplifying the fact that no position is bound by sentiment; long-term midfield starters such as captain Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum will have to provide the maximum on the pitch amid increased competition.
After the international break it could be time for Liverpool’s “false nine’s” to be utilised more efficiently; increased rest and the pressure competition creates could drive Roberto Firmino back to his insurmountable best again, while developing another weapon in Klopp’s armoury.