Wataru Endo‘s value to Liverpool was proven during a busy December, with the midfielder called upon for a feat not seen at the club in almost 18 years.
Endo has emerged from a lukewarm reception to his arrival at Anfield to become an increasingly key player to Jurgen Klopp and a favourite among fans.
“I would love to see that game without him, that would be really strange.”
According to Opta’s Michael Reid, no Liverpool player has started five games in 13 days since this stage in the 2005/06 campaign.
Jamie Carragher, Sami Hyypia, Steve Finnan, Steven Gerrard, Harry Kewell and Peter Crouch started those five games, with Liverpool going unbeaten with four wins and a draw.
Endo’s ever-presence over five games in 13 days speaks partly to the lack of options available to Klopp due to the ongoing absence of Alexis Mac Allister.
Klopp stuck with his No. 3 throughout, though, with Endo in impressive form having, in the manager’s words, now found his feet in English football.
“I loved his game, I have to say. It’s a bit of a shame he finds his feet and now he goes to the Asian Cup,” Klopp told reporters.
“That’s how it is, it’s fine. What a boy, what a player. Very important, but in January we have to play more or less without him.
“For the moment, I am really happy for him. Took him a little bit to really show how good he really is, but now we can see it. I’m really happy about that.”
As Klopp mentioned, Endo’s run in the side – which extends to seven consecutive starts – will soon end as he departs for the Asian Cup with Japan, which could rule him out for up to eight games.