Takumi Minamino primed for a Liverpool chance he can’t miss after “proper knock”

The Japanese international has had to get used to life on the fringes of things at Anfield, but he could be entering a period where his presence will be vital to the Reds’ ambitions

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  • 06:00, 24 Nov 2021
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The image of a pensive, somewhat shy Takumi Minamino skirting around the fringes of Liverpool's Premier League title celebrations on the Kop was one of many which went viral on that heady night in July 2020.

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Minamino had just made his ninth Premier League appearance for the new champions, all but one of which had come from the bench. In the one he'd started, against Everton at Goodison Park when football resumed amid the pandemic, he was taken off at half-time.

It required Jordan Henderson's intervention to grab the former Salzburg man and thrust him into the middle of the celebrating players, with Minamino perhaps feeling as though his contribution to this success hadn't quite been as important as some of his teammates' had been.

Only five of those nine appearances had come before the title was won after all, which would give Minamino every reason to feel as though he needed to hold back even if we were in normal circumstances.

Minamino eventually got hold of the Premier League trophy
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Image:
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

But, as everyone knows, the majority of 2020 could not be described as normal.

Minamino faced the same issues that every foreigner who doesn't speak the language does when they move countries, but he also faced up to them while being unable to leave his house during a national lockdown and being reduced to interacting with his new colleagues via Zoom calls.

It was somewhat inevitable that he would struggle to fit in at Liverpool in such circumstances, particularly when you consider that the whole 'playing for Liverpool' package didn't exactly look as advertised when perfroming in front of an empty Anfield and, for much of last season, shorn of some of your world-class teammates.

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Minamino set sail for Southampton halfway through the last campaign of course, in a move that was seen as somewhat surprising at the time but ultimately looks inspired now.

While on the south coast the Japanese got more minutes into his legs, picked up the speed of the English game and also got to show his finishing abilities, with a smart goal against Chelsea a particular highlight.

He knows where the net is alright, as evidenced by four goals in fairly limited minutes this season, while he didn't even need a minute to pop up in front of the Kop against Arsenal on Saturday.

Minamino celebrated his first Anfield goal against Arsenal
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Image:
PA)

That moment – his first goal in front of that stand he had sheepishly stood on 16 months earlier – would have meant the world to MInamino, and could scarcely have come at a better time.

With Liverpool now facing a couple of dead rubber Champions League games, Jurgen Klopp is sure to shuffle his pack – starting with Wednesday night's clash at home to Porto.

Changes in attack are likely to be on the German's mind, and with Diogo Jota having suffered "a proper knock" against Arsenal according to his manager, it would be a shock if Minamino wasn't in from the start at Anfield.

With the African Nations Cup on the horizon he could well find himself starting more games than he doesn't in the next six weeks or so, a crucial period in Liverpool's season.

He's earned his place as a Reds player now, and this is the time to make his mark in front of the Kop, even if he didn't while he was on it.

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