Takumi Minamino admits a lack of opportunities at Liverpool left him angry as rumours of a summer exit for the forward continue to grow.
The 27-year-old moved to Anfield from Red Bull Salzburg in January 2020. Reds chief Jurgen Klopp had made no secret of his desire to sign the Japan international, calling him ‘classy’ and ‘the best talent’.
The forward enjoyed two starts among 10 top-flight appearances in the second half of 2019-2020.
He made 14 appearances in all competitions and claimed a Premier League winner’s medal. However, 2020-21 was a frustrating campaign on Merseyside for the Far East ace.
He started just twice in the league and made nine appearances. And, while featuring more in the Champions League and both domestic cups, he was loaned to Southampton in January 2021.
Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl backed the ex-Cerezo Osaka player, handing him nine top-flight starts among ten appearances. He bagged two goals before returning to Liverpool at the end of the campaign.
With Klopp possessing such an array of attacking talent, it was always going to be tough for Minamino to see much action.
The man with 42 international caps did enjoy 24 outings in all competitions last term. But he played just 176 minutes of Premier League football, starting on the bench 25 times.
Minamino back on the bench
And it appears as though Minamino will leave with a bitter taste in his mouth.
“Many of the games I played weren’t of interest to anyone,” he told Sanspo. “Even if I left the results, there wasn’t much response. I was trying to inspire myself to prove my worth and I was doing personal training other than team training.
“I was thinking that I would leave something behind when I went to the match mentally.
“And I felt motivated by regret and anger every day. I’ve never had this much time as a player. It was difficult to maintain the condition and connect with my feelings.”
Suitors line up for signature
In addition to Atalanta, Monaco, Wolves, Leeds United and Southampton have all been linked. He has been valued at around the £17m mark, with two years left to run on his Anfield contract.
Reflecting on last season, Minamino clearly feels he has more to offer than the bit-part role he played.
“It was disappointing but fulfilling,” he added. “At the same time, it makes sense to play an important game and leave a result, so it is said that I got out and got a result, but I do not think it was a big deal.
“I want to do my best to be a player who can produce results in important games.”