Takumi Minamino was thrown in at the deep end, 33 minutes into Liverpool’s clash with Wolves, and Jurgen Klopp believes he made a “super start.”
The January signing would not have expected to make his Premier League debut so early into Thursday night’s 2-1 win at Wolves, but an injury to Sadio Mane forced Klopp’s hand.
Rather than turn to Divock Origi, or perhaps Fabinho, the manager opted to send Minamino on for his first taste of the English top flight.
After the game, Klopp revealed that the 25-year-old had toiled with the intensity of the game, and this may impact on his involvement against Shrewsbury on Sunday, but the most important part was his application.
“With Taki we have to think about we what we do exactly now,” Klopp said on Friday, when asked if Minamino could get more game time in the FA Cup.
“Because he played yesterday, obviously much longer than we thought. But yesterday night was a big step for him, so come on.
“For nobody yesterday on the pitch was it a game where you have to shine and make your best game, and stuff like this.
“When you come in as a new player, into this kind of battle, and then show up like he did—not with his skills, which he obviously has in different parts of his game, no, with his mentality and his character: he was fighting like crazy and closed gaps, was involved in a lot of situations—it was just a super start, to be honest.
“Is it his 100 percent position? Yes, he can play that but how we said, he’s pretty versatile so he can play different positions.
“For yesterday night it was exactly what he had to do and he did it, so that was much more important than the next game.
“But if he can [play], I have to see how he reacted now to the intensity of that game.
“I still don’t know him long enough in this part, so we have to see. But each game helps, for sure.”
Questioned on his overall impression of Minamino, just over three weeks after his arrival, Klopp described him as “exactly the player we expected to get.”
He elaborated further on why he was so pleased with the forward’s impact at Molineux, as though he struggled to make his mark on the ball, his endeavour caught the eye.
“He’s a super, super boy, super player, really. You saw so many things of his ability last night,” Klopp continued.
“As footballers, if you only play the days when everything is clicking, when you’re there, scoring two goals, assisting two more and stuff like this…
“No, this game last night was a proper fight and he was completely ready for that.
“And for him still in kind of a different environment, or a new environment with a new team, and really adapting, from a tactical point of view it was an outstanding game.
“So that’s what we see in training, in training we see more of the finishing stuff, the creative stuff.
“He’s just the player we wanted, and now he’s ours.”