(This post has been updated to reflect that Takumi Minamino has officially signed with Liverpool)
Who: Takumi Minamino
From Where: Red Bull Salzburg
To Where: Liverpool
For How Much: £7.25M
Grade for Liverpool: A+
Grade for RBS: C
Takumi Minamino to Liverpool Overview
It happened. What a coup.
When pundits say, “What Liverpool really needs is an attacking midfielder who can break down a defense…” they’re describing Minamino. Liverpool supporters at Anfield will love this guy. He provides depth in a critical position of need as the Reds march to their first Premier League title.
Who is he?
Minamino, 24, is the engine of the Red Bull Salzburg attack. He’s an attacking center midfielder with seemingly boundless energy. Classic box-to-box guy. In the below video, go to the 52 second mark–the play and assist leading to ERLING BRAUT HAALAND’S goal is when all Liverpool supporters took note.
Hailing from Japan, Minamino has been with RBS since 2015. He’s tallied 5 goals and 6 assists in 14 Austria Bundesliga matches this season. He’s recorded 2 goals and 3 assists in the Champions League.
Is the price fair?
The release clause is the release clause. Liverpool value him at 3x. This sums it up well:
Liverpool will have spent £15.5m on Andy Robertson and Takumi Minamino.— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) December 12, 2019
They sold Dominic Solanke to Bournemouth for £19m.
Michael Edwards is an absolute genius. 🙌🏻 pic.twitter.com/CJpxrfyp97
What impact should we expect?
Here’s what we wrote about Minamino on Monday:
Haaland gets all of the attention and rightfully so. If he nets a goal this match, he’ll become only the 2nd player to ever score in all six UCL group stage matches.
But it was Hee-Chan and Minamino who caused Liverpool fits in October. Klopp’s midfield of Fabinho-Gini-Hendo did not fare well against them. Selecting Milner this match and pitting him against a marauding Minamino would be a fun watch.
This heat map graphic though perfectly sums up why Liverpool would be interested in him:
#LFC value him at more than 3 times his release clause, and for good reason. Here’s Minamino’s heat map for Salzburg v Liverpool on Tuesday night. He’s had 20 goal involvements in 22 games this season, 9 goals, 11 assists. pic.twitter.com/hlFQAM9Wc0— David Maddock (@MaddockMirror) December 12, 2019
Yes, Naby Keita is finally starting to round into form. However, Minamino is what we thought we were getting in Keita. He figures initially to slot in as a right midfielder (where we play Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain) in some matches. However, Minamino also seems to be the guy Jurgen Klopp could use to help spell Roberto Firmino.
Minamino can track back like Bobby does and act as the offensive catalyst.
It’ll be interesting to see if Klopp goes more to a 4-2-3-1 with Minamino as well (playing him at the #10).
To temper expectations, there will be an adjustment period with Minamino just like with all new Liverpool signings. His work rate is already where Klopp would want it. However, going from Austria to England is a leap. Real contributions may not start bearing fruit until April / May or even the 2020-21 campaign (remember, it took Fabinho a few months to find his sea legs). However by all accounts, Klopp plans to use him early. Expect his first start to be against Everton in the FA Cup on January 5th.
And finally, under old UEFA rules Minamino would not be eligible for UCL play with Liverpool. Reportedly under new rules, he is. 🙌
Liverpool (A+): Hard to describe what a perfect signing this is. Most Liverpool supporters I know weren’t salivating over adding ERLING BRAUT HAALAND to the squad. Minamino is the one who stood out.
RBS (C): Again, the release clause is what it is. RBS acquired him for just under $1M in 2015. So getting 7x+ on your initial investment is always good business. But there’s not a club in the world who doesn’t value him as worth more.