Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes new signing Wataru Endo can have a similar impact to Reds icon James Milner at Anfield.
Just days after missing out on Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia to Chelsea, Liverpool secured the services of Wataru Endo from VfB Stuttgart for €18 million. The Japan skipper was officially announced as a Red today (August 18), signing a long-term contract with the club.
Wataru Endo is an integral signing to Jurgen Klopp and Co. The 30-year-old is currently the Reds' only fit central defensive midfielder, with Stefan Bajcetic and Thiago Alcantara recovering from their long-term injuries. Moreover, Endo can also be deployed as a center-back, portraying his versatility.
Jurgen Klopp gave his thoughts on Endo's signing, comparing him to James Milner (via This is Anfield):
“This club has a tradition, not a real tradition, but we had one of the biggest LFC legends, of my time at least, with James Milner. He arrived when he was, I think, 29, not that anybody ever underestimated Milly. But people said in that time, I’m not sure I was not here when he arrived, he is not a fixed lineup player but can play different positions."
“And I can tell you, without James Milner none of the success of the last years would’ve happened. One of the best players and characters I ever met in my life. Wataru can, in a different way, obviously, have a similar impact. I’m really happy he is here," he added.
“On the pitch, he turns into a real monster, he wants to win balls, he wants to fight. Plus, he’s able to play football. He was on my screen for a long time already and now for some reason, we were able to do it. I, personally, am really happy about it," Klopp concluded.
James Milner was one of the most important players for the club during his seven years at the club. He was known for his leadership, versatility, and high work rate, scoring 26 goals and providing 46 assists in 332 appearances across all competitions.
The 37-year-old joined Brighton & Hove Albion as a free agent this summer. Liverpool fans will be hoping Wataru Endo can have a similar impact as Milner at Anfield.
Wataru Endo inherits former Liverpool star's jersey number after €19M transfer
Japan captain Wataru Endo became Liverpool's third signing of the summer after Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai. The 30-year-old opted to inherit the No.3 shirt, previously worn by former Red Fabinho.
Endo will have big shoes to fill. Fabinho established himself as one of the best central defensive midfielders in the Premier League over the last few seasons, helping Liverpool win seven trophies. He recently left the club to join Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad for £40 million.
The Reds' No.3 revealed why he made this decision (via Daily Mirror):
“Number three is my number because I played as No.3 in Stuttgart and when I was playing in Japan, also. I love this number! I cannot wait to play with this number here.”
Liverpool will be desperate to integrate Endo into the starting XI as soon as possible. It's currently unclear if he will be available to feature against Bournemouth tomorrow (August 19) as his work permit hasn't been cleared yet.