Takumi Minamino has had a relatively slow start to life as a Liverpool player.
As last season drew to a close, the 25-year-old looked slightly isolated from the rest of the squad, in particular during title celebrations. Coming in from Red Bull Salzburg for the cheap price of £7.25 million, some fans had been beginning to question the signing.
Liverpool as a team had a wonderful 2019/2020 season, finishing on an unbeleivable 99 points to lift their first Premier League title, however, as the season drew to a close they started to look slightly predictable in attacking phases. Roberto Firmino, one of the league's most talented players also had a relatively poor season, and looked like he was struggling at times.
However, Minamino is looking like he might be the perfect solution to switch up Liverpool's play, whilst also allowing Firmino to get back to his best. Jurgen Klopp used the 4-3-3 formation almost exclusively throughout last season, and to great effect. However, a 4-2-3-1, which utilises Minamino in the no.10 position, could allow Liverpool to become far less predictable and more creative in the attacking third.
Minamino offers a direct goal threat, hitting 10+ goals and assists (G&A) in each of his last five seasons in Austria. In the first half of the 19/20 season, he put in 10 direct goal contributions in just 14 league games, whilst also performing brilliantly in the Champions League against Liverpool.
If he can start adding some competitive goals after scoring against Arsenal and Blackpool, it could solve an issue for Liverpool. After the famous front three, their next top scorer in the league last season was Virgil Van Dijk with 5 goals. Adding another goal threat could seriously introduce a new dimension to Liverpool's attack.
Minamino's worked on communication in lockdown
Against Blackpool in a friendly on Saturday, there were even more exciting signs of a potential link up with Firmino. Liverpool-based journalist James Pearce revealed that in order to better intergrate into the squad, Taki spent much of lockdown to learn English. It is clear that this is allowing him to better communicate on the field and although Firmino doesn't speak great English either, it allows for some lines of communication.
Firmino has looked overworked when tirelessly trying to help the team tick, whilst also dropping deep and then trying to remain a goal threat. Minamino and Firmino can both play similar roles, and therefore the 4-2-3-1 system would allow the latter to operate more effectively by interchanging and linking up with Taki, who would be playing as the no.10.
He has a good eye for a pass and as well as being an undoubted goal threat, he could be the secret weapon that takes Liverpool the step further to retaining the league. After the consistency of results under Klopp whilst using the 4-3-3, a tweak to the system by using Minamino as a starter could give teams a new challenge.Published 07 Sep 2020, 11:26 IST