Takumi Minamino has hinted at a lack of confidence during his time at Liverpool, and says game time on loan at Southampton is “helping him to get more back as a player.”
The difficulty Minamino faced in swapping Salzburg for Liverpool at the start of last year was evident throughout his first 12 months with the club.
Arriving mid-season, particularly into Jurgen Klopp‘s squad, is never easy, and the Japanese was forced to adjust to a new country, city, language and team-mates, all set to the backdrop of lockdown.
Fighting his way into a side on their way to a first-ever Premier League title, with one of the best attacking trios in world football, was unsurprisingly tough, too.
And when called upon, it was often from the substitutes’ bench or in low-profile cup ties, which clearly had an impact on Minamino’s confidence ahead of a surprise winter loan move to Southampton.
“For a football player, playing is the most important thing,” Minamino told the Saints’ official website, reflecting on his decision to move.
“Playing more is helping me to get more confidence back as a player.
“I want to play more; the more I am helping the team and contributing to wins, the more my confidence will grow.
“Playing in the Premier League has been a dream for me since I was a child. I am really enjoying getting the chance to play in the Premier League.”
For Liverpool so far, Minamino has only clocked 528 minutes on the pitch in the Premier League, but at Southampton he is already on 412 – though he is not currently a first-choice starter for Ralph Hasenhuttl.
There is seemingly no guarantee of minutes in the deal between the two clubs, which could hamper the 26-year-old’s chances between now and the end of the season as the Saints find themselves mired in mid-table.
“I understand how the manager wants the team to play, but I am still learning my part and how to put it into practice on the pitch,” Minamino added.
The forward continued to explain that “I just want to help the team by scoring and assisting as much as possible,” and that “it is my responsibility to score and assist to help the team.”
A run in the side between now and the end of the season – with eight games left to play – could be exactly what is required for Minamino to galvanise his career in England and, potentially, fight back into contention at Liverpool.
Hope is not lost on Merseyside, with Klopp insisting the loan is part of a “long-term project” for his No. 18, and restoring his confidence will be vital to this.