According to reports in the national press today, Red Bull Salzburg winger Takumi Minamino looks set to become a Liverpool player in the January window. It’s reported that the Japanese winger has a £7.25million release clause in his contract – pittance for a player of his quality in this day and age.
The sporting director at Red Bull Salzburg, Christoph Freund, today confirmed the two clubs are in talks for a move for the 24-year-old. “I can confirm that there are currently discussions with Liverpool,” he said. “It is an honor which clubs are interested in our players.”
Is the move for all the right reasons?
David Maddock of the Mirror tweeted this morning, “Jurgen Klopp wants Red Bull Salzburg’s Takumi Minamino in January. He has a release clause of just £7.25million. Reds said in court case v New Balance, they want a bigger presence in Far East. Japan star fits the bill.”
That makes it sound as though Liverpool see this as a cheap way to bring more interest from Asia. If that was true, what would it mean for the player himself? Does that just mean he’s there to sit on the bench and play bit parts in game here and there? Is his job simply to be the figurehead of Liverpool Asian marketing campaign?
As far as I’m concerned, if that’s the reason they want to bring Minamino in then, it’s the wrong move for the player – he’ll be far better off developing his talent elsewhere than he will warming the bench at Anfield. However, I’m absolutely sure that there is more to this than just the commercial revenue and shirt sales he’ll bring with him…
Minamino the right fit
Minamino, as mentioned above, is primarily a right winger but is also more than capable of playing on the left or even through the middle. This season, he has played for Salzburg twice against Liverpool in the Champions League – meaning Liverpool and their scouts have had an unusually fortunate opportunity to scout a very good player.
Earlier on in the season, he showed Klopp and the Liverpool fanbase just how good he is as he bagged one of his two Champions League goals this season at Anfield. In all competitions this term, Minamino has bagged nine goals and 11 assists – cracking output, albeit in a less competitive league than the Premier League.
Having been at Salzburg for over four years and never having played in one of Europe’s elite leagues – it goes without saying he’ll need time to adjust to the pace and intensity of the Premier League. However, in two UCL games against the European champions, he has seriously impressed. It’s said that Liverpool value the Japanese at three times the price of his release clause – something which bodes very well for those on the terraces at Anfield.
For me, it’s an absolute no-brainer for Liverpool – whatever the motivation is. He is a top quality player, available on the cheap and has a lot to add to an already fantastic squad.
It’s hard to say how much time on the pitch Minamino will get at Liverpool, but there’s no way in hell he’s ever going to turn down a move to the European champions – and nor should he. There’s far worse places to be in football than playing understudy to Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.
Also, as the rules were changed last season by UEFA, he will still be eligible to play for Liverpool in the Champions League. The old adage of a player being “cup-tied” is no longer a thing in Europe’s premier club competition. This deal is a win-win for every single party involved – apart from maybe RB Salzburg, who will be regretting not giving him a higher release clause…