Takumi Minamino is said to be given a chance in the preseason as Liverpool are “very reluctant” to agree on another loan despite being open to offers for the striker.
When the Reds traveled to Salzburg for their pre-season training camp, Minamino was one of 34 players Jürgen Klopp welcomed to the first tests and sessions.
Of those 34, it is safe to say that at least 10 face an uncertain future and there is still work to be done as Liverpool look to downsize their first-team squad.
Minamino is in that group of 10 after loaning out the second half of last season at Southampton after Klopp admitted he couldn’t give him the chances he needed on Merseyside.
The 26-year-old struggled to take on a starting role at Southampton but coach Ralph Hasenhuttl has expressed his desire to keep him for the new season.
However, according to Goal’s Neil Jones, “The feeling at Liverpool is that ongoing interest in Minamino will be minimal this summer.”
This is unlike Divock Origi, who attracts clubs in Germany and England, and Xherdan Shaqiri, who is on Lazio’s radar as the club tries to capitalize on its fringe players.
Jones added that Liverpool are “very reluctant to even consider another loan deal” for Minamino, which opens up the prospect of a longer stint on Anfield.
Minamino has admirers among Klopp’s coaching staff, as evidenced by the number of praise he has received during Liverpool’s training sessions in Austria, but he has yet to fully transfer this to the Premier League pitch.
As Jones notes, the fact that Liverpool will lose both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to the Africa Cup in the middle of the new season opens up the possibility for players like Minamino to stay and take their chances.
But first he has to convince in the pre-season, against a team he is more familiar with than most of his teammates, FC Wacker Innsbruck.
The Austrian team have played against Salzburg several times in recent years, with Minamino assisting in his former club’s 2-0 win over Liverpool’s upcoming opponents in 2019.
Minamino could start the 30-minute game on Tuesday evening, but could immediately have a place in the line-up against the top-class Stuttgart player in mind.
Hit the ground under your feet and the Japan international will be hoping to show Klopp that he deserves a first-team spot at Liverpool – which may be needed given the perceived disinterest elsewhere.