Takumi Minamino proved Jurgen Klopp and Pep Ljinders right with his brace in Liverpool’s Carabao Cup win over Norwich.
Minamino got a chance at glory as Klopp made nine changes to Tuesday’s clash at Carrow Road.
The Japan international seized the chance to impress, scoring the Reds’ first goal after just four minutes. Minamino added a third late on, after Divock Origi had doubled their lead.
Minamino appeared to be facing an uncertain future at Anfield after he was on the bench for five Liverpool games this season. He also missed the trip to Leeds with a thigh injury.
After struggling to find a regular position since his January 2020 move from RB Salzburg, Minamino spent the second term at Southampton on loan.
But against Norwich the 26-year-old scored his first competitive goals in a Reds shirt since December last year, having also netted in pre-season friendlies against Hertha Berlin and Osasuna.
After signing Minamino’s praises before the game, Klopp’s No2 Linders will be pleased with his performance.
“Taki had a really good pre-season and I think it was really important for him after going to Southampton, which was a good decision at that time,’ the assistant coach told Liverpool’s official website.
“He came back and had a complete, full pre-season with us training-wise. His pre-season impact was impressive, and we were extremely excited about him.
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“Then he had a small issue, with the national team, but he’s back now. He was not 100 per cent fit because he came back early, but now he is good to go and we are really happy that he’s part of our team.”
Ljinders said Klopp had also been impressed with Minamino – insisting the plan had always been that Liverpool would develop the forward rather than thrusting him straight into the first team.
“Jurgen said, ‘Wow, the amount of times Taki comes one-v-one against the goalkeeper’,” Ljinders said.
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“I said, ‘Yeah, it shows you don’t need super, super speed to come one-v-one with the goalkeeper’. He is a very natural, intelligent mover.
“This is what we need, we had it in the last games. He has the ability to move in behind players and is good at combination play.
“He only can become better. That’s what we like, that’s why we brought him in at that time – because we saw the potential, not the end product.”