Takumi Minamino Has Finally Found His Place at Liverpool

Takumi Minamino
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When Takumi Minamino gracefully chested the ball down, before clinically finishing into the bottom corner to equalise in stoppage time against Leicester City, it didn’t just take the game to penalties, it once again confirmed that he does have a role to play at Anfield. And an important one at that, too.

The former Red Bull Salzburg man is a far cry from what we saw last season. A shy, only occasionally elegant, Southampton castaway. This is a player full of confidence, ability and a goalscoring touch promising enough to leave Liverpool fans always wanting to see more. Most crucially, this is a reliable player; someone Jurgen Klopp can turn to when Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane wave goodbye to swap Anfield for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Takumi Minamino Has Finally Found His Place at Liverpool

Ready to Fill the Mane and Salah Void

The shoes of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are so difficult to fill that it will take a collection of players to do so whilst AFCON is taking place, and that includes Minamino. He, alongside Diogo Jota, Divock Origi, and Roberto Firmino must temporarily take charge of the forward line, whilst the commanders are away on duty.

If you asked a Liverpool fan at the start of the season who they felt they could rely on during AFCON, Minamino and Origi would not be among those mentioned. Many were looking at both for potential profit to fund incomings, which is, in a way, fair enough. Neither player looked likely to revive their Liverpool careers. Minamino’s never looked like starting. Yet, halfway into the season, and the duo have reached numbers respectable for any starting strikers – let alone backups.

Perhaps the definition of ‘plan B’, the duo have scored five goals each, with Minamino playing the equivalent of five games, and Origi playing the equivalent of four. So, in theory, albeit inevitably against tougher opponents, those numbers should rise alongside their respective times on the pitch – creating a more than adequate replacement for the goals left behind by Salah and Mane.

A lot is said about Liverpool’s squad depth – or, the lack of it, some may suggest – but when your backup forwards are hitting the numbers that Minamino and Origi are, then something must be heading in the right direction.

Only Getting Better

Perhaps the best thing about Minamino’s form this season is that, as the opponents get better, so does he. He has scored in every League Cup game this season, starting with two against Norwich City, one against Preston North End, and most recently, the aforementioned late leveller against a full strength Leicester side.

Now in the final four, the Japanese international has more than earned his place in Klopp’s side. Potentially alongside Liverpool’s fiercest XI, Minamino could reach levels he has previously never reached in a Liverpool shirt. His role continues to grow at Anfield. And, with every touch of elegance and finish into the bottom corner, so does the love shown for him from within the Liverpool faithful.

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