It’s not been a seamless transition for Takumi Minamino at Liverpool, but Jurgen Klopp insists he has made “big steps” and that he ought to involve his No. 18 more often.
It’s been steady going for Minamino since his transfer one year ago, making a total of just 29 appearances for the Reds with a return of four goals.
The most recent of which came as the opener in the 7-0 drubbing of Crystal Palace prior to Christmas, where he played the full 90 minutes on the left-wing.
The Japan international looked to have seized his chance for greater involvement in the games to follow, only to never be called upon from the bench despite the run of three games which returned just two points and one goal.
With a creative spark lacking, for many Minamino was a valuable option to have at Liverpool’s disposal but he was continually overlooked by the boss.
It was representative of the stop-start life at Anfield to date but Klopp was nothing but complimentary as he reflected on having had Minamino at his disposal for a year now.
“You come in, a new club and everybody thinks that you will score 20, 30, 40 goals and stuff like this,” Klopp said.
“He is in a good shape – a really good shape – he developed, he got used to it. He was a good player when we signed him, obviously, but he got used to the intensity, the league, training, all this stuff.
“He made big steps. I know the last game he played was Crystal Palace and since then we didn’t win another [game], so we should think about involving him, obviously.”
More opportunities will certainly arise and with Diogo Jota sidelined until the end of January, at the earliest, and the current attacking trident misfiring it could be sooner rather than later.
The hope will be that Minamino can come into his own in 2021 and find that ever-important rhythm that the boss consistently speaks of for players on the fringe or returning from injury.
The 25-year-old’s versatility across the forward line and most recently shown in midfield boosts his chances and now he needs to stamp his authority in Klopp’s mind.