Liverpool’s January signing Takumi Minamino is living up to manager Jurgen Klopp’s expectations as he looks to make his second start for the club.
The Japan international, a £7.25million arrival from Red Bull Salzburg, is in line to play in the FA Cup fourth-round tie at League One Shrewsbury on Sunday, having made his debut in the previous round against Everton.
A minor complication was introduced to Klopp’s plan when the 25-year-old had to come off the bench to play nearly an hour in the 2-1 win over Wolves after an injury to Sadio Mane.
Making his Premier League debut was a “big step”, according to Klopp, and he has to decide how much that took out of the player.
“We have to think about what we do, because he played much longer than we thought,” said the Reds boss.
“Yesterday night was a big step for him. For nobody was it a game where you shine and play your best game ever.
“When you come in as a new player in this kind of battle, showing up like he did, not with his skills but with his mentality and character, fighting like crazy, closing gaps, it was a super start.
“He’s pretty versatile and he did exactly what he had to do. I have to see how he reacted to the intensity to that game.
"He was fighting like crazy and closed gaps, was involved in a lot of situations. That was just a super start, to be honest." 👊@takumina0116 will draw plenty of worthwhile experience from his introduction to life in the #PL, Klopp believes… https://t.co/x91L9MGBM8— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 24, 2020
“I don’t know him long enough in that regard, but each game helps.”
Minamino’s only other previous involvement was 70 minutes against Everton when he did not really get a chance to settle in, having only arrived at the club five days earlier.
However, Klopp is happy with how his integration is going.
“He’s a super boy – exactly the player we expected,” he added.
“You saw so much of his ability (against Wolves). As a footballer you can’t only play on the days when everything is clicking, scoring two goals, all that stuff.
“This game was a proper fight and he was completely ready for that.
“A new team, adapting, and from a tactical point it was an outstanding game.
“In training we see the finishing and the creating. He’s the player we wanted and now he’s ours.”
Klopp will rest most of his first-team stars for the trip to Shrewsbury but will still be able to field a much stronger line-up than he did when the squad was affected by injuries for the last round.
Centre-backs Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip, back from lengthy injury absences, are likely to start, as is striker Divock Origi, probably Adam Lallana, providing he recovers from illness which forced him to miss the Wolves game, and possibly Fabinho as he makes a gradual comeback from an ankle injury.
“It’s a chance for a lot of players. I didn’t make the line-up yet. We have to wait for all the medical reports,” said Klopp.
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