SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

Takumi Minamino admits talks with Wataru Endo over next Liverpool manager

Takumi Minamino admits he was “shocked” to learn Jurgen Klopp will be leaving Liverpool, adding that he has “talked” with Wataru Endo about his replacement.

The Japanese striker currently plies his trade at Monaco having made a £15.5 million move from Anfield in the summer of 2022, ending his two-and-a-half-year stay.

He was restricted to 55 appearances during his time under Klopp, with fellow forwards Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah among those blocking his pathway into the first team.

Despite this – and his brief six-month loan spell at Southampton – the 29-year-old appears to still have plenty of respect for his former manager, saying that he feels Klopp has “epitomised” Liverpool.

“My image of Liverpool has been equal to that of a team managed by Mr. Klopp,” Minamino told the Japan Times.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 16, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp embraces Takumi Minamino after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brentford FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“What he has built has epitomised the Liverpool of recent times.

“It feels strange that will be gone. They are still in with a chance to win all titles available this season and I hope he gets his last hurrah.”

The striker is currently competing with Endo at the Asian Cup, where Japan have reached the knockout stages and are among the bookmakers’ favourites to win the competition.

Endo caught Klopp’s eye during a pre-season tour back in 2020, when the midfielder joked to then-opponent Minamino that he should lie to the Liverpool boss about his age to convince him to sign him.

Minamino has revealed that the pair have discussed the latest developments, admitting that they have been “wondering” which candidates might take over for 2024/25.

He continued: “We’ve talked a bit. We were wondering who the succeeding manager will be.”

Japan will face Iran in the quarter-finals of the tournament on Saturday, with the final set to take place on February 10.

Endo will return to Anfield when Japan’s campaign ends, having made a huge impact in Liverpool’s midfield in the weeks leading up to the tournament.