Erling Haaland of Red Bull Salzburg caught the attention of big European clubs this season. While the top clubs remained busy with Haaland, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool became the first Premier League Club to act in January transfer window having agreed to sign Salzburg and Japanese forward Takumi Minamino.

Along with Haaland, Minamoni displayed brilliant performance on the pitch against some of the top clubs in Europe. He has been around in Austrian Bundesliga for almost five years and scored goals in every 3 games from his 131 appearances out there. No one assisted more Champions League goals from an open play than Minamino this season. Certainly, in January, Liverpool’s signings always remained top-notch.

Klopp rates versatile players highly – players who could be exploited in various positions according to the demand of the situation. In the current Liverpool set-up, almost all the players are versatile and it is this quality, which makes the Reds the best in Europe right now. Keeping in mind the versatility factor, Minamino should fit well in Klopp’s plan.

In the Austrian Bundesliga, Salzburg’s manager Jesse Marsch played Minamino in various positions. In a 4-4-2 system, Minamino could be seen on the right side of midfield and when he shifted to 4-2-2-2 format, Minamino was seen behind the striker, cutting back in from the right. In the Champions League, Minamino was operated at the top of the diamond-shaped midfield. He was just behind Halaand and Hwang Hee-chan.  Even though he played in the right-wing and central midfield, but his role as a central attacking midfield in the matches against Liverpool and Genk earned a lot of accolades. He played 347 minutes as a central attacking midfielder in the Champions League this season, which benefited Salzburg.

“I think I played everywhere in the attack in Japan; on the left-wing, on the right-wing and in the middle. I definitely like that the most as I can have the most effect with my speed and assists. I think I can dribble really well and I have a really decent shot. I can use my speed in one-to-one situations, but also in defending. I always try to support the defence while being ready to attack again as soon as we win the ball back”, Minamino assessed himself in an interview.

In one aspect, Klopp’s system might not suit Minamino and which is his low defensive work rate. English Premier League demands a high defensive work rate from each and every player, no matter in which position they play. Even though Salzburg’s head of sport highlighted, “That low work rate could be partly an artifact of the Austrian Bundesliga, with its slower pace. And at right midfield, he is being compared to true midfielders and wing-backs. When Minamino has played in UEFA competitions, his defending has been more aggressive, at least as a central attacking midfielder”.

Indeed, the central attacking midfield role would suit Minamino than an RM, RW or CM. But whom would he might replace at Liverpool? At present, Roberto Firmino plays a key role as a center-forward/CAM – behind Mohamed Salah (on the right) and Sadio Mane (on the left). At the start of his journey at Liverpool, Klopp might utilize him at various positions as a substitute to inject more pace or give full playing time while the big boys would be at rest for big matches.

And if Klopp decides to shun 4-3-3 system and adopt 4-2-3-1, then he could play alongside the top three of Reds as a right midfielder. But so far, his brilliant role as a CAM, might not let Klopp play him there. Still, if Minamino is signed on the basis of versatility then he needs to fourish in variable positions. Moreover, on the right, he would have to contest with Xherdan Shaqiri.

Liverpool would be a great opportunity for Minamino to take his talent to the next level. He is versatile and in one of the toughest Leagues in world football, things won’t be easier for the Japanese. But when someone like Klopp shows interest then one can’t deny the true worth of someone like Minamino. The Japanese forward is worthy enough to exhibit his brilliance as a Liverpool player.

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