Liverpool are known to be shrewd buyers in the transfer market. Over the years, they’ve acquired the reputation of being smart spenders and for buying exactly the sort of players they need. The signing of Takumi Minamino, in that sense, hasn’t yet made an impact. But with passing time, the Japanese could be a key player for the Reds.
Minamino’s signature from RB Salzburg came for a measly fee of £7.25 million. He was expected to add depth to the first-team in multiple areas. Many even saw him as a back-up to Roberto Firmino, who isn’t having the best of seasons overall. The signing came in the wake of a very tiring schedule for Liverpool, who had to play the FA Cup, Premier League and the FIFA Club World Cup in closely placed dates – the club were also favourite for each competition according to betting comparison site Betslip.
But since arriving, Minamino has made only three appearances in the Premier League from the bench for the Reds. In the FA Cup, he has made three starts but he is yet to score even once. He has played only seven minutes in the Champions League too.
While this is a bit alarming for any player, it is hardly a surprise for Minamino. The deals Liverpool do often reflect the value of the player to the team. Xherdan Shaqiri- for example, came to the club for a £13 million fee. Since arriving, he was never expected to be a starter over Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane. The fee he came for reflected his value to the team.
That minimal fee saw him fulfil his role as an effective option from the bench. He grabbed a brace against Manchester United and came up with a crucial performance against Barcelona at Anfield. He doesn’t play much and he wasn’t meant to play much either.
The same applies to Divock Origi. The Belgian arrived from Lille for just £10 million. That too has gone onto reflect what he means to the team. Despite costing so less, Origi has come up with vital goals from the bench- famously scoring in the semi-final against Barcelona and in the final against Tottenham.
That is the sort of signing Minamino is meant to be. He isn’t supposed to be a starter (unless there are injuries) on a consistent basis. He is meant to be a player who comes from the bench and changes games when the need arises.
It can be said that he hasn’t done that so far. That is true, considering his numbers. But that too is far from a surprise. He arrived from Austria- a league which isn’t part of the top five in Europe. He will take his time to properly settle in and would need some regular minutes to make an impact.
Much more established bench options like Shaqiri and Origi haven’t had as much impact as last season either. Together, they’ve contributed to five goals and haven’t had as much chance as last season too. Minamino was brought in as the club probably feared a lack of options during a tiring period. But nothing untoward happened for them to force their hand on playing the Japanese.
Origi had played regularly because of Salah’s injury towards the end of last season. If not for that, he might not have got that spotlight in the final and the semi-final.
Minamino is versatile and adds a technical option in many positions. That is one bonus he brings. If any one of those players gets injured, he will certainly gets his chance and make his mark like Shaqiri and Origi did. It is time for patience.