Jurgen Klopp explains Wataru Endo’s slow start – “Not a short-term project”

Jurgen Klopp has offered an explanation for Wataru Endo’s relative lack of minutes since joining the club from Stuttgart last month.

The Japan captain has started just once in the Premier League since his £16 million summer move and was again restricted to a substitute appearance against West Ham on Sunday.

Endo was introduced in the 88th minute of the Reds 3-1 win over the Hammers, with many fans surprised that he wasn’t called upon earlier in the contest given that he remains the squad’s only specialist No. 6.

Speaking after the game, the manager insisted that the midfielder is “not a short-term project” despite his age and that he is still adjusting to life at Anfield.

“He needs to get used to the things here,” admitted the boss when asked about Endo’s role within the squad.

“He is not 30 or whatever and wants to get some people out of the way to get into the team, but he is improving every day.

“You saw that today, he is there, he will help us a lot, he will play games, he will start games and all these kinds of things. It’s all good, he had already three or four games now for us in a very short period.

“That is what counts, it is not a short-term project. Wataru is a super-important part of the squad and I am really happy to have him.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 19, 2023: Liverpool's Wataru Endo during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Endo became the third of four midfield signings over the summer when he arrived from the Bundesliga in August.

It came after the club failed in their attempts to land Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia and – aged 30 – many fans assumed that Endo was seen as a readymade alternative.

The midfielder was however handed a four-year contract despite being significantly older than the previous targets, indicating that Klopp views him as a player who can contribute into his twilight years.

Whether that translates into more playing time in the coming weeks remains to be seen, but Endo will be keen to put his stamp on the much-changed Reds midfield sooner rather than later given the competition for places.