The majority of England’s biggest clubs didn’t do a lot of business during the January transfer window, and current Premier League leaders Liverpool were no exception. The Reds inked Japanese forward Takumi Minamino on the first day of the window after agreeing to meet his £7.25m release clause at Red Bull Salzburg, but outside of that signing, they made no other inroads and weren’t really linked with any players either.
Still, there’s plenty to discuss about Liverpool’s activity during the window – and here are 3 talking points.
#1 Did Liverpool need to strengthen their squad anyway?
Much was made about the failings of Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United when it came to strengthening their squads in the January window, but much less fuss was made over Liverpool’s lack of activity. Part of that was down to their quick signing of Minamino, but in reality, did Jurgen Klopp really need any reinforcements?
The likely answer is no. The likes of Alisson Becker, Virgil Van Dijk, Jordan Henderson, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are rarely given a rest from Premier League action by Klopp, but the Reds have a sneakily deep squad with plenty of reinforcements in practically every area – as well as plenty of talented youngsters waiting in the wings.
In defence, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren are all solid partners for Van Dijk, James Milner and Naby Keita are more than capable deputies for any of their midfield teammates, and if one of Liverpool’s front three goes down, they have Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri and now Minamino to provide cover.
At the end of the day, real-life football isn’t like a video game, and clubs shouldn’t spend money for the sake of spending it. Jurgen Klopp has a more than adequate squad at Anfield right now, so why risk upsetting the apple cart by adding more talent when he doesn’t need it?
#2 What kind of impact can Takumi Minamino have?
The signing of Takumi Minamino was a massive coup for Liverpool in every possible way; the 25-year old Japanese international looked fantastic in the Champions League for RB Salzburg, scoring 2 goals and registering 3 assists in his 6 appearances – including a goal and an assist against the Reds themselves – but had the club splashed out a huge fee for him, there’d probably be a lot of pressure on him to succeed.
However, the fact that the Reds only had to meet a £7.25m release clause to get him means that essentially, he was a risk-free signing. When you consider that West Ham had to pay an initial fee of £18m – with potential add-ons of £7m – for Jarrod Bowen, who has much less top-level experience, it’s easy to see how much of a great move this was by Liverpool’s backroom team.
But what kind of impact can the Japanese international have on the Reds? Commercially, he could have a big one, as the Asian market is known to be an enthusiastic – and huge – one, and having a Japanese star in their team will almost certainly help Liverpool’s stature in that regard. But Minamino wasn’t just bought to sell replica shirts.
The forward’s style of play is reminiscent of that of Roberto Firmino; he’s less a winger or out-and-out striker as he is a fleet-footed, all-round attacker with the ability to both create and finish off goalscoring opportunities.
Will he have a big role to play this season? As Liverpool are close to having the Premier League title wrapped up, it feels unlikely, but it seems highly probable that he’ll slot into Klopp’s plans in 2020-21 as someone who can play the Firmino role so that the Reds don’t struggle so much in the Brazilian’s absence. All in all, this was an excellent signing.
#3 Should Jones and Elliott have joined Brewster in making loan moves?
Liverpool’s ‘loan army’ might not be as big as that of Chelsea, but the Reds still have a handful of talented youngsters plying their trade elsewhere, and the January window saw ultra-talented striker Rhian Brewster – who won the Golden Boot in England’s U-17 World Cup victory – join them, as he made a loan move to Swansea City.
The 19-year old striker has already made an impact in Wales, scoring 2 goals in his first 4 appearances for the Swans – and Jurgen Klopp will hope that he’ll gain the valuable experience he needs in order to impact Liverpool’s first team in the future.
One question though is why were another pair of talented youngsters not sent on loan moves of their own? 19-year old midfielder Curtis Jones and 16-year old attacker Harvey Elliott now remain with the Reds for the remainder of the season, and while it’s true that they have played a total of 12 games between them in the current campaign – mostly in the domestic cup competitions – would it not have benefitted them to receive more first-team football?
Admittedly, Elliott is still very young and so keeping him with Liverpool’s first team in order for him to train with great players – a similar situation to that of Phil Foden at Manchester City in the last couple of seasons – might make sense, but Jones is 19, the same age as Brewster, and clearly has the talent to make an impact for a Championship or lower-level Premier League side.
Klopp may well have a plan up his sleeve; perhaps he means to give the talented duo more first-team experience once the Premier League title is sewn up, allowing his more established stars to focus on the Champions League, but right now, it feels like loan moves might’ve benefited them more.Published 04 Feb 2020, 16:02 IST