Klopp’s shrewd Minamino tactic was genius and creates Liverpool advantage

It may have felt odd that Jürgen Klopp chose to dedicate some of his programme notes for the Tottenham Hotspur game in midweek to a player that wasn’t going to play.

“I’m not usually a fan of singling people out, but I think Taki Minamino is someone I want to highlight. Taki has been sensational for us since he came. His attitude is of the highest level always. Commitment to improving is total.

“He has had to be patient, and at times, I can imagine that’s been quite difficult. His lack of starting opportunities until now is not because of anything he is not doing well; it’s because the players in his position have been so consistent in their delivery for our club.”

The Japan international joined the club in January from Red Bull Salzburg for a fee of £7.25m, but he has had to be patient in waiting for opportunities. The forward has managed three goals and one assist in 14 appearances for the club this season, a run that totals 586 minutes.

Minamino’s role in the side has fluctuated, with the 25-year-old playing four different positions for Jurgen Klopp this season. While on the surface, a total of 3 goals and 1 assist in 28 games (across this season and last) may seem underwhelming, so much of his early Liverpool career is dependent on perspective.

Minamino has managed four-goal contributions in under 600 minutes, but three of those came in the 7-2 demolition of Lincoln City. It begs the question, why would Klopp be so quick to praise him?

The truth is, football is a squad game. Although Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané may grab the headlines, the greatest test for Liverpool this season has been their strength and depth. No one could have predicted the injury crisis that would befall them, and as Klopp frantically shuffles players into new roles, he must have players like Minamino. The forward has not issued any complaints about his situation and remains keen to impress.

Georginio Wijnaldum has been linked with Barcelona

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That reliability and willingness to slot into the side wherever he may be needed (he played several different positions for…

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