Takumi Minamino has not made the impact hoped for at new club Monaco, leading to wild claims he could have been signed as a “marketing stunt.”
Liverpool agreed a deal worth up to £15.5 million with AS Monaco last summer that saw Minamino depart Anfield after just two-and-a-half years.
The versatile forward made 55 appearances for the Reds following his arrival from Salzburg, and was top scorer in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup triumphs last season, but he failed to earn a regular starting role.
Moving to Monaco was designed to give Minamino the game time his talent deserved, but so far he has played only 17 of their 31 games, of which 11 have been as a starter.
Prior to Sunday’s 2-0 win at Clermont Foot 63, he had gone five games as an unused substitute in Ligue 1.
But with Kevin Volland not yet fully fit, it was Minamino who started as the second striker behind Breel Embolo at Stade Gabriel Montpied.
Easy as 1, 2, 3 ?#CF63ASM | @Ligue1_ENG pic.twitter.com/5Lbob5k5s1
— AS Monaco EN (@AS_Monaco_EN) February 6, 2023
In their assessment of the 28-year-old’s display, L’Equipe described it as a “convincing performance” in a campaign in which he has otherwise “done little.”
As relayed by Sport Witness, the report explains how Minamino had “disappeared from the radar” of late, “reawakening the idea” that he was signed as a “marketing stunt.”
The implication is that Monaco may have brought the Japan international into their squad as a means to ‘break the market’ in Asia.
To suggest that would be wholly disrespectful to a player of Minamino’s calibre, but it does paint the picture of a talent still struggling to establish himself.
It is now over three years since he left the relative comforts of Austria, where he scored 64 goals and assisted 43 in 199 games for Salzburg, including a star turn against Liverpool in the Champions League.
Since then, he has played 82 times across spells with Liverpool, Southampton and Monaco, with 17 goals and seven assists to show for it.
The hope is that this display against Clermont – which saw him deployed in his more natural role behind the centre-forward and record the most key passes (three) and second-most tackles won (four) of any player – can be the turning point.
But the return of Volland, who replaced Minamino for the final five minutes, serves as another roadblock in a frustrating and trying season so far.