After scoring just 48 seconds after being introduced, Takumi Minamino ended his wait for an Anfield goal for Liverpool, and Jurgen Klopp insisted more games are around the corner.
It was Minamino’s seventh season appearance for the Reds on Saturday, his third in succession off the bench in the Premier League and one he marked with a milestone goal.
It’s been a long time coming for the No. 18 to strike at Anfield in a competitive setting and while it was the cherry on top of the win, the euphoria was all the same for Minamino.
The player himself his teammates and the fans shared in the delight for a player who has struggled to make his mark, but Klopp only had positive words to say post-match.
“You can’t imagine how happy I am with Taki, he is in an incredible moment and he was actually our solution for pretty much four positions to change, I think, because that’s how the squad looked,” Klopp said.
“It was like he could have played first five positions – he could have played both eight positions and then all three up front.
“He is in a really good moment, you see that. He played for Japan in the international games and now he is here and very important for us.
“Everybody was so happy for him that he scored the goal. The way he played today reflects really good how he trains in the moment. He will have games, there is no doubt about that.”
Minamino’s versatility can be a blessing or a curse having yet to lock down a role in the team but with injuries playing their part it could leave the door ajar.
Diogo Jota‘s “proper knock” is the latest that could very well spell more game time for someone else, with Minamino a likely starter against Porto in mid-week in either case.
It will pose as another valuable opportunity should he get the nod with his importance likely to grow with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah‘s Africa Cup of Nations absence looming.
And Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, when talking to LFCTV, was complimentary about his 14-minute cameo on Saturday, echoing Klopp’s words about his application in training and beyond.
“He deserves that, he’s worked really hard, he’s kept his head down and he’s a great footballer. I think whenever we’ve seen him playing in the cup, he’s clinical and scores goals,” the No. 15 said.