In the final days of the January transfer window, speculation mounted over a move for Minamino that was never likely to happen.
Minamino’s presence in the Japan squad for their World Cup qualifiers made it almost impossible for the logistics of a mid-season transfer to take place, owing to strict entry rules in his home country.
Following an 85-minute display against China with a goal in the 2-0 win over Saudi Arabia that pushed Japan to within a win of Qatar 2022, the 27-year-old was back in the starting lineup and scoring for Liverpool in their 3-1 victory over Cardiff.
Speaking after the win at Anfield, Klopp praised Minamino’s “outstanding attitude” having declined the offer of time off – as most of his team-mates were granted – to play for his club.
“He came back early, he could have stayed a little bit longer away if he would have wanted,” the manager revealed.
Takumi Minamino at Liverpool
“With his outstanding attitude, obviously he wanted to be back quicker, that’s why we could line him up today – a very good option for us.
“He’s in a very good moment, thank god.”
There is a difficult debate surrounding Minamino’s place in the squad, as though he often struggles to make an impact on the Reds’ all-round game, he has now scored seven goals and laid on one assist in 19 appearances this season.
He is averaging a goal or assist every 100 minutes, which is an outstanding record for a player who is widely considered a backup option.
“Taki obviously was very successful with Japan, before he left he was very successful with us,” he continued.
“So he was in a really good moment. He played today a really good game, scored a wonderful goal.”
So while Minamino is unlikely to challenge the likes of Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota – as was perhaps hoped when he made the switch from Salzburg two years ago – he is proving himself a valuable squad player.
That “outstanding attitude” will only endear himself further to Klopp, which may come at a crucial time given the level of competition at Liverpool.