Premier League • England

Joel Matip lauds ‘amazing’ Liverpool surprise package who’s racked up incredible statistic

Liverpool quartet Caoimhin Kelleher, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Takumi Minamino

Joel Matip echoed Jurgen Klopp’s sentiments regarding Takumi Minamino who has quietly been instrumental in Liverpool’s quadruple hopes.

The Reds have the League Cup and FA Cup safely tucked away, though if all goes well, their trophy haul this season could yet be doubled. Liverpool must hope for a favour from Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho, Danny Ings and co on final day. A Man City draw with Aston Villa, combined with a Reds win against Wolves would complete the domestic treble.

Attention will then turn to Paris with Real Madrid awaiting in the Champions League final. Regardless of how Liverpool fare in the final 10 days, their season on the whole has been nothing short of spectacular.

Yet if it weren’t for Takumi Minamino, Liverpool may yet be approaching the final stretch trophy-less.

The Japanese forward, 27, notched his third league goal of the campaign against Southampton on Tuesday night. That took his overall season tally to 10 despite remarkably only having nine starts.

Minamino’s impact has been greatest in the cup competitions. He was Liverpool’s top scorer in the League Cup and notched a 95th minute equaliser against Leicester at the quarter-final stage.

In the FA Cup, he bagged both goals as Liverpool edged past Norwich City 2-1 in Round Five.

Now, hailing Minamino as “amazing”, centre-back Joel Matip heaped praise on the invaluable forward.

Matip hails Minamino’s “whole game”

“It’s just amazing,” said Matip referencing Minamino’s vital goal against Southampton (via the Mirror).

“His whole game, he was there in every second, he was always an option, he was always a threat for the opponent. He just did brilliant.”

Matip’s comments come quick on the heels of Jurgen Klopp’s. The Reds manager rotated heavily for the Saints clash and paid Minamino a huge compliment in the aftermath.

Klopp said: “It’s a crime! I apologise! Crazy! People ask me if it’s hard to pick a line-up.

“The football we could play was really good. It’s hard [to leave people out]. I expect them to react like they do, but it’s not normal. It’s special. Whatever happens, happens because the group is pretty, pretty special.

“Actually, I’m so happy about the performance, it was a bit touching to be honest.

“It was like ‘Wow, these boys!’ It’s like having Ferraris in the garage and then you let them out and they play like this.

“Harvey [Elliott], not sure when he last played. Curtis [Jones], no rhythm. Takumi Minamino, it’s a crime he’s not playing more often. Oxlade-Chamberlain didn’t even play and he’s in outstanding shape.”

Minamino afforded greater role next season?

Minamino has never let Liverpool down, though with so many elite options in front, he has never been a regular in the side.

However, Divock Origi is due to depart as a free agent this summer. If Liverpool do not sign a direct replacement, Minamino may be able to add Origi’s minutes to his own and see something of a spike in appearances – even if only off the bench.

Harvey Elliott and incoming Fulham ace Fabio Carvalho will provide competition. However, Elliott has been deployed mainly in midfield this season, while Carvalho operated primarily as an advanced midfielder under Marco Silva.

The Reds will hope to challenge on at least four fronts once again next year. As such, Minamino may yet have another vital role to play in their overall campaign.