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Sign him up! Minamino to Liverpool for just £7.25m represents a perfect deal for Klopp

12:00 PM EST 12/12/19
Takumi Minamino Jurgen Klopp Salzburg Liverpool GFX
Salzburg's Japan international has already made a huge impression on the Reds' squad and would prove an excellent signing given the knockdown fee

Liverpool players urged Jurgen Klopp to sign Takumi Minamino after the Champions League win over Salzburg on Tuesday – not realising the Reds were already negotiating a deal for the Japan star.

Anfield sources are confident that Minamino will move to Merseyside in January after their recruitment team, led by sporting director Michael Edwards, unearthed a £7.25m ($9.6m) release clause in the 24-year-old’s contract.

Talks between Liverpool and Salzburg have accelerated in the last month and the Reds are now in a position where they believe a deal will be completed when the transfer window re-opens on January 1. No hiccups in terms of personal terms or medical tests are anticipated.

A host of clubs from across Europe, including Manchester United, have been tracking Minamino, but Liverpool enjoy a healthy relationship with Salzburg, in particular the Austrian champions’ director of football, Christian Freund.

Freund suggested this week that Minamino was ready to “take the next step” by moving to one of Europe’s top clubs in January, and Liverpool are confident they have seen off interest from the likes of Borussia Monchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund and AC Milan, among others.

Milan, it is understood, were at Tuesday’s Champions League game specifically to scout Minamino, while United had identified him as a potential alternative to Leicester’s James Maddison.

Unlike Liverpool, however, those clubs were unaware of his release clause.

Minamino, Goal understands, has been on Liverpool’s radar since 2013, when he was playing with Cerezo Osaka in his home country.

He moved to Salzburg in 2015 and has developed impressively since, helping them to five successive Austrian Bundesliga titles, as well as four Austrian Cups. He is now a regular with the Japanese national team, and has scored 11 times in 22 international appearances.

Liverpool believe Minamino’s true market value to be well in excess of £20m ($26m), and it is that, along with the urgings of Jurgen Klopp and his coaching staff, which has convinced them to move now.

He is seen as a player who immediately improves the squad in multiple positions, and someone who will start games between now and the end of the season. The fact that he would not be cup-tied for Champions League matches is another bonus. Liverpool will discover their last 16 opponents on Monday.

Minamino certainly made an impression in his two appearances against the Reds earlier this season.

He scored at Anfield as Salzburg gave the European champions an almighty scare back in October, but it was his energy, his touch, movement and awareness which stood out. Even though Salzburg eventually lost 4-3, Liverpool players came away from the game talking about the quality of the Austrians’ attacking midfield star.

That quality was evident again at the Red Bull Arena on Tuesday, when Salzburg caused Liverpool plenty of problems in the first half. Minamino’s skill and intelligence, in particular his link-up with South Korean striker Hwang Hee-Chan, ensured the Reds’ defence could rarely relax.

Afterwards, players urged Klopp and his staff to pursue a move for the Japanese star. Little did they know that the wheels were already very much in motion.

Should the deal be done, it would be another feather in the cap for Edwards and his team. The discovery of Minamino’s contract clause has been key – it would enable Liverpool to land one of Europe’s brightest talents for roughly the same price they sold Ryan Kent to Rangers in the summer, for example.

The likes of Dominic Solanke, Danny Ings, Danny Ward and Rafa Camacho have all been offloaded for decent money too in the last 12 months, while the club would be able to command good fees for the likes of Marko Grujic, Harry Wilson and Sheyi Ojo should they choose to sell in the future.

Liverpool’s summer transfer business was minimal – they brought in only Adrian, Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliott – but they have always insisted that they would be willing to dip into the market for the right player at the right time and for the right price.

In Minamino, they appear to have found themselves the perfect deal.