With Takumi Minamino signing for Liverpool, what will the Japan international bring to Anfield?
Minamino impressed against the Reds in October with a goal and assist as the Austrian side narrowly suffered a 4-3 defeat at Anfield and caught the eye once more in the return fixture, when Liverpool won 2-0 earlier in December. His £7.25m contract release clause has attracted interest from Premier League clubs, but he will now join Liverpool on January 1.
Minamino joined Salzburg for less than £1m from Japan top-tier side Cerezo Osaka in January 2015.
Despite missing part of this season, he has been in scintillating form in the Austrian Bundesliga, too, with five goals and six assists from just 11 starts. For Japan, he’s maintained that impressive ratio with 11 goals in 22 games.
With Jurgen Klopp set to sign his fourth player from Ralf Rangnick’s production line, the former RB Leipzig boss says the Liverpool manager ‘doesn’t need to thank’ him
Where does he play?
Minamino has primarily started as a central attacking midfielder or winger for Salzburg this season but can also play as a wide midfielder. The graphic below shows his influence and impressive returns in the Champions League this term.
The heatmap below further emphasises his considerable coverage from box to box, while he also primarily looks to pass forward or to an overlapping runner down the left flank.
But his knack of scoring or teeing up team-mates is his key attribute and the shot map below reveals his economy, with most of his shots coming from inside the box after carving clear-cut opportunities.
His precision passing has created numerous opportunities for his team-mates – and the graphic below shows how he has carved out openings in the Champions League.
Minamino appears to fit the Klopp mould, being just 24 years old, having a high work rate, versatility, a clinical edge and eye to thread killer balls for team-mates to finish. At just over £7m, he could prove to be quite a bargain.
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‘Minamino gives Liverpool more attacking quality’
Analysis from German football expert Raphael Honigstein on the latest episode of the Transfer Talk podcast…
“He’s different because he’s not comparable to any of the front three forwards they have at the moment.
“Sadio Mane is very different to Mohamed Salah and Salah is very different to Roberto Firmino. Now you add a fourth guy and you can’t really say he’s going to be a replace for X, Y or Z but what id does give you is just a bit more attacking quality.
“What Liverpool have seen over the last year or so was that whenever you bring on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain he perhaps doesn’t quite have the impact as one of the front three. He’s better in midfield and Xherdan Shaqiri, for all his deft skills, doesn’t really do it consistently enough. And unless you play Divock Origi through the middle it doesn’t really work. Yes, you can swap him for Firmino, but not Mane or Salah.
“So, to have a fourth guy that you can rely on would really release the pressure on the other three rocket men up front and would allow Jurgen Klopp to rotate a little bit. It makes a lot of sense to have the fourth guy.
“I was probably expecting Liverpool to make a move for Timo Werner. He could have been the fourth guy, but it didn’t happen. Minamino is a lot cheaper but perhaps also has more value in terms of the improvement and the places he can go.
“Again, Liverpool have learned as a club that you don’t buy the finished article for £100m. You buy that’s going to be worth £50m, £60m or £100m three years down the line thanks to good coaching and thanks to playing in a team that works, and that’s really the key behind their recent successes.
“In Premier League terms, Minamino’s release clause is almost a free transfer. It’s less than £10m and you don’t get anyone inside the Premier league for that kind of money. Even when you look at Germany or France it’s incredibly cheap so even if it doesn’t work out for some reason it still wouldn’t be a problem because you’d get your money back. It’s a no-brainer of a deal in financial terms.”
‘It’s a no-brainer for Liverpool’
Analysis from Sky Sports News’ Vinny O’Connor…
“Minamino has impressed in Red Bull Salzburg’s two games against Liverpool in the Champions League. He scored at Anfield and impressed on Tuesday night over in Salzburg.
“In the current market he’s arguably worth around £20m, perhaps even more than that, but he has a release clause of £7.25m. It’s a no-brainer from Liverpool’s perspective.
“It makes sense to make the move and accelerate their interest given he is being chased by a number of Bundesliga and Serie A clubs. Manchester United are also being linked with a move as well, but at the moment, it appears Liverpool are best placed to complete a deal and look favourites to bring him to Merseyside.”
How to follow the January transfer window
Sky Sports will bring you the very latest news from the January transfer market with the return of three shows.
Start your day with Good Morning Transfers at 9am as our team of reporters bring you the latest news and insight. Transfer Talk then follows at midday delivering analysis of the biggest stories. Then join us at 7pm for the definitive round-up of the day’s news with The Transfer Show.