Takumi Minamino close to Liverpool transfer from Red Bull Salzburg

Klopp: "You are too early! He's not yet our player"; Minamino expected to join Liverpool on January 1

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Jurgen Klopp says Takumi Minamino is not yet a Liverpool player - but he would have liked to have been able to play him against Monterrey

Takumi Minamino is edging closer to completing a transfer to Liverpool from Red Bull Salzburg in January.

Liverpool began negotiations to sign the 24-year-old, who has a £7.25m release clause in his contract, last week and he is now expected to officially arrive at Anfield on January 1. He was expected to have a medical with the Premier League leaders on Wednesday.

After Liverpool's 2-1 win over Monterrey to secure a place in the Club World Cup final, Jurgen Klopp insisted that he could not give much of an update on Minamino's transfer but said he would have liked to have used him in Doha on Wednesday.

Klopp asked Liverpool's press officer if the Minamino deal was official yet before being told that no announcement had been made.

"So, I cannot speak about it - sorry! You are too early," he told reporters. "I would have felt really good today to be honest if we could have brought him on. He's not yet our player so we have to wait for that."

The Japan attacking midfielder impressed against Liverpool in their two Champions League group games this season, scoring at Anfield.

Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund said last week it was an "honour" to have Champions League champions Liverpool interested in their players.

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How good is Minamino?

How good is Minamino?

Liverpool are set to sign Takumi Minamino in January - but what will the Japan international bring to Anfield?

Minamino has scored seven goals in all competitions for the Austrian league leaders this season as they finished third in the group phase, dropping into the Europa League last-32.

Liverpool have insisted the proposed deal for Minamino is not for commercial reasons and based solely on football ability and suitability to Jurgen Klopp's squad.

Minamino joined RB Salzburg from Japanese side Cerezo Osaka for less than £1m in 2015.

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With 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

'Minamino gives Liverpool more attacking quality'

Analysis from German football expert Raphael Honigstein on the latest episode of the Transfer Talk podcast…

"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 from Mohamed Salah and Salah is very different from Roberto Firmino. Now you add a fourth guy and you can't really say he's going to be a replacement for X, Y or Z but what it 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.

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"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."

'It's a no-brainer for Liverpool'

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

Analysis from Sky Sports News reporter Vinny O'Connor...

"Minamino has impressed in Red Bull Salzburg's two games against Liverpool in the Champions League. He scored at Anfield and impressed on Tuesday night over in Salzburg.

"In the current market he's arguably worth around £20m, perhaps even more than that, but he has a release clause of £7.25m. It's a no-brainer from Liverpool's perspective.

"It makes sense to make the move and accelerate their interest given he is being chased by a number of Bundesliga and Serie A clubs. Manchester United are also being linked with a move as well, but at the moment, it appears Liverpool are best placed to complete a deal and look favourites to bring him to Merseyside."

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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