Football

Klopp looks forward to working with Minamino

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said he is mulling over where new signing Takumi Minamino will fit in his line-up.

The Japanese, who completed his £7.25 million (S$12.7m) move from Red Bull Salzburg last week, will be eligible to play for Liverpool once the transfer window opens on Jan 1.

Such is the 24-year-old's versatility – he can play across the forward line and in an attacking midfield role as well – that it has thrown up various permutations for Klopp to consider.

When asked how Minamino will feature alongside the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, Klopp said: "Easy, easy. We will see. All the things we know about Takumi, so many things fit very well to us.

"His football skills first and foremost obviously, his decision-making in tight areas, his speed, his desire to win the ball back.

"Counter-pressing, he’s used to that because Salzburg have a similar philosophy that we have. That’s all really good but then you have to see how he will adapt when he is finally coming over and we are allowed to work with him. How can we put him in, in the short-term?

"Long-term, there is no doubt that he will help us, that’s clear. I’m looking forward to working with him, but between now and Takumi’s first real day at Melwood there’s still three games so I have a little bit of time to think about where he will fit in."

Klopp also revealed that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is set for a spell on the sidelines after sustaining an ankle ligament injury in last Saturday’s Club World Cup final.

The midfielder landed awkwardly on his ankle during the 1-0 win over Flamengo and was substituted in the 75th minute. Klopp confirmed the 26-year-old would not play during the busy festive period when Liverpool play three times in eight days.

“You have three ligaments on the outside of the ankle, one of them is damaged,” Klopp told reporters ahead of the top-of-the-table clash at Leicester City on Friday morning (Singapore time).

“Now we have to see how quickly we can fix that. I don’t know exactly. I had that injury myself, but it was years ago and it can take a while or can be quick.

“No chance for Thursday and no chance for this year. Oxlade will not play anymore (in 2019), that’s clear.”

Klopp also said midfielder Fabinho and centre-backs Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip were recovering well but not fit for the upcoming games.

“There is no news on anyone else, which is good news,” Klopp added.

Liverpool played two games in Qatar last week as they lifted their third trophy of the year following their Champions League and UEFA Super Cup triumphs. But Klopp said fatigue would not be a factor when they prepare for the trip to Leicester.

“The way to Qatar was difficult sleeping-wise but on the way back it was completely normal,” Klopp said.

“Yesterday we had the day off, and I’m pretty sure the boys slept as much as they could." – REUTERS

juergen kloppliverpoolTakumi Minamino