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Takumi Minamino joins Liverpool: Who is Reds' new signing?

Minamino officially joined Liverpool from Red Bull Salzburg on January 1

Takumi Minamino

Takumi Minamino is officially a Liverpool player but what will the Japan international bring to Anfield?

Minamino impressed against the Reds in October with a goal and assist as the Austrian side narrowly suffered a 4-3 defeat at Anfield and caught the eye once more in the return fixture, when Liverpool won 2-0 earlier in December.

His £7.25m contract release clause attracted interest from Premier League clubs but the Reds won the race and the player's switch to Liverpool was ratified when the transfer window opened on January 1.

He is not eligible to face Sheffield United on January 2 but did join his team-mates at training for the first time on New Year's Eve.

Minamino joined Salzburg for less than £1m from Japan top-tier side Cerezo Osaka in January 2015.

Takumi Minamino
Image: Takumi Minamino has impressed for Red Bull Salzburg this season

Minamino, who scored seven goals in 20 appearances for Salzburg this season, becomes the fifth current Liverpool player signed from a production line linked with Red Bull's head of sport and development Ralf Rangnick, joining Naby Keita, Sadio Mane, Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino.

"The style is very similar to Jurgen's," said Rangnick. "It's proactive, it's high pressing, counter-pressing. Once we have won the ball we don't want to waste any time by square passes or back passes.

"We are trying to play forward as quickly as possible, trying to create chances, trying to score as many goals as possible.

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"It's definitely no coincidence that he has four former players of mine because it shows that he is, in fact, looking for the same kind of players, with the same assets, with the same mentality as we do."

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With Jurgen Klopp set to sign his fourth player from Ralf Rangnick's production line, the former RB Leipzig boss says the Liverpool manager 'doesn't need to thank' him

Where does he play?

Minamino primarily started as a central attacking midfielder or winger for Salzburg this season but can also play as a wide midfielder. The graphic below shows his influence and impressive returns in the Champions League this term.

GRAPHIC

The heatmap below further emphasises his considerable coverage from box to box, while he also primarily looks to pass forward or to an overlapping runner down the left flank.

Takumi Minamino

But his knack of scoring or teeing up team-mates is his key attribute and the shot map below reveals his economy, with most of his shots coming from inside the box after carving clear-cut opportunities.

Takumi Minamino

His precision passing has created numerous opportunities for his team-mates - and the graphic below shows how he has carved out openings in the Champions League.

GRAPHIC
Image: This graphic shows where each of his key passes originated from, with stars symbolising his assists

Minamino appears to fit the Klopp mould, being just 24 years old, having a high work rate, versatility, a clinical edge and eye to thread killer balls for team-mates to finish. At just over £7m, he could prove to be quite a bargain.

'Minamino gives Liverpool more attacking quality'

 Liverpool
Image: Minamino impressed in both his appearances against Liverpool in the Champions League

Analysis from German football expert Raphael Honigstein on the Transfer Talk:

"He's different because he's not comparable to any of the front three forwards they have at the moment.

"Sadio Mane is very different to Mohamed Salah and Salah is very different to Roberto Firmino. Now you add a fourth guy and you can't really say he's going to be a replace for X, Y or Z but what id does give you is just a bit more attacking quality.

"What Liverpool have seen over the last year or so was that whenever you bring on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain he perhaps doesn't quite have the impact as one of the front three. He's better in midfield and Xherdan Shaqiri, for all his deft skills, doesn't really do it consistently enough. And unless you play Divock Origi through the middle it doesn't really work. Yes, you can swap him for Firmino, but not Mane or Salah.

Takumi Minamino celebrates hauling back another Salzburg night on a balmy night at Anfield
Image: Minamino celebrates scoring at Anfield

"So, to have a fourth guy that you can rely on would really release the pressure on the other three rocket men up front and would allow Jurgen Klopp to rotate a little bit. It makes a lot of sense to have the fourth guy.

"I was probably expecting Liverpool to make a move for Timo Werner. He could have been the fourth guy, but it didn't happen. Minamino is a lot cheaper but perhaps also has more value in terms of the improvement and the places he can go.

"Again, Liverpool have learned as a club that you don't buy the finished article for £100m. You buy that's going to be worth £50m, £60m or £100m three years down the line thanks to good coaching and thanks to playing in a team that works, and that's really the key behind their recent successes.

"In Premier League terms, Minamino's release clause is almost a free transfer. It's less than £10m and you don't get anyone inside the Premier league for that kind of money. Even when you look at Germany or France it's incredibly cheap so even if it doesn't work out for some reason it still wouldn't be a problem because you'd get your money back. It's a no-brainer of a deal in financial terms."

Liverpool
Image: Minamino is expected to join Virgil van Dijk at liverpool on January 1

Minamino likely to play against Everton

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says new-signing Takumi Minamino's adaptability means he will feature for the side sooner rather than later - but also urges patience with him.

Klopp is likely to throw new signing Minamino into the fray in Sunday's FA Cup Merseyside derby at home to Everton but has pleaded for the Japan international to be given time.

"This time we are not allowed (to play him) but from the next moment on we are thinking about putting him in the squad," said Klopp. "In this period of the season especially there will not be 15 weeks until we use him. Is he then the finished article in March? I don't know.

"We signed the player he was at Salzburg so he doesn't have to change in the moment, just be who you are and then we start working on that and I am looking forward to it."

Takumi Minamino Red Bull Salzburg
Image: Minamino could make his Liverpool debut against Everton

How to follow the January transfer window

Sky Sports will bring you the very latest news from the January transfer market with the return of three shows.

Start your day with Good Morning Transfers at 9am as our team of reporters bring you the latest news and insight. Transfer Talk then follows at midday delivering analysis of the biggest stories. Then join us at 7pm for the definitive round-up of the day's news with The Transfer Show.

Meanwhile, the Transfer Talk podcast will also be back at the turn of the year with more expert analysis from here and across the continent.

And as well as tuning into Sky Sports News, don't miss a thing with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.

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