Premier League • England

Klopp approves surprise Liverpool midfield signing who’s proven ‘how good he really is’

Jurgen Klopp celebrating

Jurgen Klopp has been linked with the Barcelona job

Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for Liverpool midfielder Wataru Endo after their 2-0 win over Burnley on Boxing Day in the Premier League.

Endo was one of four new midfielders to arrive at Liverpool this summer, but perhaps the least exciting. While Alexis Mac Allister was a known name from the Premier League with Brighton (not to mention a World Cup winner with Argentina) and big fees were spent on Dominik Szoboszlai and Ryan Gravenberch, Endo was a relatively less heralded signing.

At the age of 30, the Japan international did not fit the usual kind of profile Liverpool would pursue. But as a defensive midfielder, he also looked like the most natural replacement for Fabinho – if he could get up to speed.

Albeit, it took some time, but Endo has now settled in at Liverpool and was one of their standout performers in Klopp’s eyes against Burnley.

Klopp said afterwards: “I loved his game, I have to say. It’s a bit of a shame he’s found his feet and now he goes to the Asia Cup. That’s how it is. It’s fine.

“What a boy. What a player. Very important, but in January we have to play more or less without him. But against Newcastle he is still here. Then the boys leave and then we have to find another way and we will.

“For the moment, I am really happy for him. It took him a little bit to really show how good he really is, but now we can see it. I’m really happy about it.”

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Endo among Liverpool’s best players vs Burnley

So enthusiastic was Klopp about Endo’s performance, that he suggested he could have been a candidate for player of the match instead of Virgil van Dijk.

The manager said on Amazon Prime Video Sport: “By the way, Virgil Man of the Match [is] absolutely fine. Another one who could’ve been in contention is Wataru Endo, my god what a game he played, eh?

“I would love to see that game without him, that would be really strange.”

As Klopp stated, Liverpool will soon have to do without Endo while he is on duty with Japan at the Asia Cup, which runs until February.

But once he returns, any headaches Klopp has had about filling Liverpool’s Fabinho-shaped void should be less intense.

Endo is under contract with Liverpool until 2027.

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