Premier League • England

Liverpool star shrugs off Klopp claim; names best position as major decision looms

Takumi Minamino celebrates scoring for Liverpool at Norwich in the Carabao Cup

Liverpool attacker Takumi Minamino has insisted that he does not need praise from manager Jurgen Klopp to keep his motivation levels high.

The Japan international has remained on the fringes of the Reds ranks following his move from RB Salzburg. In fact, he has also spent time away, playing half of last season on loan at Southampton.

Klopp admitted after sanctioning the move that the player’s lack of game time was “my fault”. He starred in a 7-0 win over Crystal Palace last December but played only six further minutes before his transfer down south.

This season, Minamino has remained on the outskirts of Liverpool’s team. Nevertheless, the 26-year-old has featured in each of the last eight matches in all competitions, even if not as a starter.

His best moment in that run came when he scored immediately after coming on in a 4-0 win over Arsenal. Klopp lauded Minamino afterwards and his role in the team.

However, the attacker has insisted that he does not rely on encouragement from his manager to perform.

The Japan star told Liverpool’s official website: “I always keep my motivation high and the manager’s comments do not necessarily make it even higher.

“It is what professional players need to do and I don’t do anything special. Even though I play only limited amounts of game time, when I am given a chance I do my best to show my 100 per cent.

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“In order to do so, I need to prepare for it. It is what professional players need to do. But, still, I am very glad that there are people who look at me and make good comments about me.”

After the win over Arsenal, Klopp claimed that Minamino was in fact Liverpool’s solution in several positions. He can play across the front line but also in a deeper role.

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As for where he thinks he plays best, though, the attacker said: “Playing closest to the goal is my favourite position, I believe it is one of my roles to score goals.

“But the manager decides where I play, and it is good that he says that I can play in many positions because it is one of my advantages. I would like to play at a higher level in every position.”

Minamino’s minutes will likely grow in January. Indeed, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are heading to the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal and Egypt, respectively.

Minamino inspired by Jota at Liverpool

Sadio Mane Diogo Jota and Naby Keita

One Liverpool player who has enjoyed the limelight in recent weeks is Diogo Jota.

The Portugal international has scored nine goals in 17 games, including three in the last two games.

Minamino said of the 2020 signing from Wolves: “It is obvious for everyone that he has fit this club.

“The stats show it very clearly and also outside the stats, his work proves that he is one of the most important players in the club.

“Yes, this inspires me. There are a lot of great players in the team. It always helps me keep my motivation higher.”

Liverpool return to action on Saturday when they play Wolves at Molineux.