Jurgen Klopp has said Takumi Minamino can be a “real player” for Liverpool this season after the Japan international continued his fine start to the new campaign with his first goal for the club in Saturday’s Community Shield.
Minamino has impressed in pre-season and appears ready to play an influential role for the Premier League champions this campaign after struggling to make an impact last season, following his move from Red Bull Salzburg in January.
The 25-year-old started just two matches in the Premier League after lockdown but Klopp believes his goal against Arsenal marked an “important step” in the attacking midfielder’s Liverpool career.
“It was big for him and for us,” said Klopp. “The only thing he lacked since he was with us is that he didn’t score a goal. He was close in plenty of moments but the shape he’s in is obviously good and everyone could see that when he came on.
“The goal is more or less the logical step up after performing at the level he performs now, especially in the pre-season. So I am very pleased for him. It was very important for us to stay in the game and for him just to make his first important step.
“He can have an impact. That’s why we signed him. But after one or two good pre-season performances I don’t want to put massive pressure on his shoulders. There’s absolutely no need for that.
“We have a good football team and it’s difficult to get into it. But he’s a player who is really useful for us. It was not only the goal today. It was his play in between, he was really good in short spaces, his first touch is exceptional. His decision making between the lines was really quick. So yes, he can be a real player for us. That was always clear.
“He came in during the most difficult period of all our lives, I would say. He had to adapt to different things being alone in England in the lockdown. That’s not nice. But he dealt with it really well because he’s a super professional.”
Meanwhile, Klopp has expressed his support for teams being allowed to make five substitutions in the Premier League next season. The issue will be discussed again ahead of the new campaign.
“It’s all about how can we get through this season,” said Klopp. “For the sake of the football players and the performance levels, I think it would make sense. But I don’t make the decisions.”