Takumi Minamino has been linked with a move away from Liverpool on deadline day, but the forward is said to be “desperate” to stay at Anfield beyond January 31.
Minamino is one of the players subject to speculation in the final hours of the transfer window, with his position under threat following the arrival of Luis Diaz.
The 27-year-old has served an important, bit-part role for the Reds so far this campaign, scoring six goals and laying on one assist in 18 appearances, but he is now considered up for sale.
As Diaz made the £50 million switch to Merseyside, talk continued over a possible exit for Liverpool’s No. 18, who has attracted both Monaco and Leeds over the past week.
With Mo Salah and Sadio Mane extending their stay at the Africa Cup of Nations, Divock Origi not yet back from injury and time required for Diaz to settle, it is far from a bad situation if Minamino were to stay.
He could even start in the FA Cup fourth-round clash with Cardiff on Sunday, though Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain appears to be Klopp’s preferred forward line in the absence of Salah and Mane.
There is another factor in play that would deny Minamino a deadline-day move, anyway, as he is currently on international duty with Japan.
Japan are hoping to seal a place at the 2022 World Cup, and took a step closer with a 2-0 win over China on Thursday, with victories over Saudi Arabia and Australia in their next two qualifiers enough to guarantee progress.
Minamino is a key player for his country, and will almost certainly start against Saudi Arabia in Saitama on Tuesday.
His involvement complicates matters when it comes to a possible transfer, with interested parties required to conduct a medical before signing off on any big-money deals.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, foreign nationals are not permitted entry to Japan for any purpose bar a few exceptions, for which a football transfer would not qualify.
Unlike the situation that allowed a Liverpool delegation to travel to Argentina to complete checks on Diaz, who is on duty with Colombia, clubs interested in Minamino will not be able to conduct tests on the player before the 11pm deadline.
That would rule out moves to the majority of European leagues, including the Premier League and Ligue 1, with Austria, Russia, Switzerland and Turkey the most viable destinations beyond January 31.