LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 23, 2023: Liverpool's Wataru Endo during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Wataru Endo just managed feat not seen by a Liverpool player in 18 years

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.

Wataru Endo, my god what a game he played, eh?” was Klopp’s assessment for Amazon Prime, following Tuesday’s 2-0 win at Burnley.

“I would love to see that game without him, that would be really strange.”

The 30-year-old made his 16th start of the campaign at Turf Moor, and remarkably his fifth in the space of just 13 days against Union SG, Man United, West Ham, Arsenal and Burnley.

According to Opta’s Michael Reid, no Liverpool player has started five games in 13 days since this stage in the 2005/06 campaign.

BOLTON, ENGLAND - MONDAY, JANUARY 2nd, 2006: Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates scoring the equalising goal from the penalty spot during the Premiership match against Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rafa Benitez’s side played Newcastle, Everton, West Brom, Bolton and Luton between December 26 and January 7, with six players starting all five.

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.

But there were opportunities to rest the Japan captain, of course, notably in the Europa League dead-rubber at Union SG where many expected James McConnell to deputise.

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.

“But against Newcastle he is still here and then [Endo and Mo Salah] leave and we have to find another way, and we will.

“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.