After he enjoyed a breatkhrough campaign in the Champions League, Liverpool have pounced to confirm the signing of RB Salzburg’s Japanese international Takumi Minamino for a £7.25m fee. The deal will be made official on January 1.
Minamino departs RB Salzburg one appearance shy of 200 club matches, after signing for them in 2015 – a modest £720,000 was paid to prise him away from Cerezo Osaka in his native Japan. During his spell in Austria, he won the league each season and departs with four other domestic medals to his credit.
He will officially become a Liverpool player on January 1 when the winter transfer window opens, having finalised personal terms and passed a medical on Merseyside this week. The 24-year-old is excited about the opportunity to play Premier League football in 2020 onwards – not least given recent success of another Asian star in Heung-Min Son.
As quoted by the club’s official website, he said: “It has been a dream, my dream to become a Liverpool player and I’m so excited the moment has come true.
To play in the Premier League was one of my targets, I think this is the top-class league in the world; I was thinking if my career as a footballer progressed smoothly, someday I would be able to play here. But I never thought I would be able to play in this team, I’m really happy and looking forward to it.”
Historical stats and the winger’s new lofty ambitions
Minamino’s season-by-season stats:
14-15: 17 appearances, 3 goals, 3 assists
15-16: 40 apps, 13 goals, six assists
16-17: 31 apps, 14 goals, four assists
17-18: 44 apps, 11 goals, 10 assists
18-19: 45 apps, 14 goals, 10 assists
19-20: 22 apps, 9 goals, 11 assists
Statistic: Since making his Europa League debut against Villarreal in 2014-15, Minamino has made 38 more appearances in either that competition or the Champions League – including qualifying phases for both.
He went on to describe how he’ll embrace the high levels of technique and intensity that England’s top-flight demands – while outlining some ambitious early goals he hopes to achieve on L4.
“Their football is of such a high level and I did feel they [Liverpool] were the European champions. Feeling that, it makes me even happier that I can play in this team.
My target is to win the Premier League and Champions League, and to make good contributions to the team.”
It seems inevitable he won’t be their only big-name departure in 2020 either.
Hee-chan Hwang (23), Dominik Szoboszlai and the Champions League’s second-top goalscorer Erling Haaland (both 19) are equally attracting interest aplenty across Europe’s top five leagues.
Klopp and Robertson’s reaction to their new acquisition
His new boss Jürgen Klopp expects he’ll make a seamless transition to life at Liverpool, especially as many are eager to welcome him with open arms. Minamino’s development at Salzburg, where Naby Keita and Sadio Mane enjoyed spells earlier in their respective careers, means he’s among good company and could fit perfectly for the Reds long-term.
He said: “This is fabulous news, a wonderful signing. We are really, really happy about this. Our supporters had the chance to see him close up recently, so I don’t need to sing too loudly about his qualities as they are already known.
“Takumi is a very quick, clever player, he finds space between the lines. Brave with and without the ball, a proper team player who makes the best of himself for the benefit of others. His CL experience is a big bonus: coming from the club and organisation he does, we know he’ll be well coached – used to an elite environment.
After dealing with a motivated Minamino on two occasions already this term, left-back Andy Robertson is glad he’ll be playing alongside him rather than against him in future.
As quoted by the Liverpool Echo (H/T: LFC), the Scotland captain said:
“It was difficult to play against Salzburg full stop, but I thought he was their main man. He was the one, especially at Anfield, who caused us problems. When we went 3-0 up, he started to dictate the game. That might be why the gaffer started looking at him, thinking ‘who is this player?’
Other than the two games we played against them, I hadn’t really seen him play. He will be a welcome addition for us and I’m sure he will be a fantastic player. We look forward to him coming and he’ll add to the already-high quality in this squad.”
Takumi is currently recovering from a thigh injury and should the deal go through as planned, he’s slated to potentially feature in their FA Cup Third Round tie against Merseyside rivals Everton on January 5.
Stats’ source: Transfermarkt