Premier League • England

Wataru Endo: Why Liverpool are signing the midfielder and everything you need to know about him

Liverpool target Wataru Endo playing for Stuttgart. TEAMtalk montage.

After signing Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai this summer, Liverpool are now closing in on a deal for Wataru Endo. 

The Reds needed more reinforcements in the middle of the park after letting Fabinho and Jordan Henderson join the Saudi Pro League.

Having missed out on both Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, Liverpool decided to turn their attention to Endo.

Here’s everything you need to know about Endo and why he appeals to Liverpool.

How old is Wataru Endo?

Born in the Yokohama region of Japan in February 1993, Endo celebrated his 30th birthday earlier this year.

While Endo isn’t a long-term solution for Liverpool’s problems, he would provide valuable experience and should be able to make an immediate impact.

Who does Wataru Endo play for? 

Endo started his professional career with Japanese side Shonan Bellmare and rose through their academy before making over 150 first-team appearances.

He joined Urawa Red Diamonds in 2015 and was a key part of the side that won the J.League Cup in 2016 and the Asian Champions League in 2017.

The 30-year-old moved to Europe with Belgian side Sint-Truiden in 2018 and then had an impressive loan spell at VfB Stuttgart in 2019/20, helping them win promotion back to the Bundesliga.

Stuttgart snapped him up for a bargain fee of just €1.7million, and he was handed the captain’s armband a few months later.

Endo has now made 133 appearances in all competitions for the German side and has established himself as a fan favourite at the MHPArena.

At international level, he is the captain of the Japanese national team, and he helped his country knock out Germany and reach the last 16 at the Qatar World Cup.

Are Liverpool signing Wataru Endo?

Fabrizio Romano exclusively revealed that Liverpool have agreed on a fee of around €18million (£15.4m) with Stuttgart for the 30-year-old.

He’s already agreed personal terms with Jurgen Klopp’s side and has been given permission to travel to Merseyside to complete the transfer.

According to The Guardian, the deal has been driven by Liverpool’s new sporting director Jorg Schmadtke, who was appointed in May. 

What position does Wataru Endo play?

During his time in Japan with Shonan Bellmare and Urawa Red Diamonds, Endo mainly played as a centre-back but was also deployed at right-back.

Since moving to Europe in the summer of 2018, he has adapted his game to become a defensive midfielder who shields the back four.

The 5ft 10in midfielder, who wears a gum shield on the pitch, is renowned for his combative style and is an exceptional ball-winner.

He will add some much-needed defensive discipline to the Liverpool side and his stats show that he has an incredible work rate and stamina.

But Endo can be much more than a mere destroyer as he is comfortable on the ball and often contributes to the offensive phase of the game.

Szoboszlai, Jamal Musiala, Moussa Diaby and Raphael Guerreiro were the only players who created more chances from open play than Endo in the Bundesliga in 2022/23.

The Japan international also scored 15 goals during his time at Stuttgart, including an injury-time winner against FC Koln to save them from the relegation playoffs and secure their place in the 2022/23 Bundesliga.

What he’s said

– “It’s not secret that playing in the Premier League is a dream of mine,” Endo told Kicker in 2021. “If there was interest from one of the top clubs in England, I would certainly listen. But so far that hasn’t been the case.”

He added: “Ideally, I would like to lead VfB to the top, where the club used to be as German champions. I’d like to aim for the Champions League with VfB at some point.

“My goal is to keep developing personally, preferably in and with Stuttgart. I dream of taking part in the World Cup and playing in the Champions League.”

– “Before matches, my son always says, ‘Please dad, score a goal,’ but I’m no striker,” Endo said after registering two goals and two assists in a 5-1 win over Schalke in 2021. “I try, but it doesn’t often work.”

What they’ve said about him

– “When I came into the dressing room, I was always telling the coach to put me in the same team as Wataru because then we will never lose,” former Stuttgart striker Mario Gomez recently told reporters. “This is how it started. I was just pushing him a lot.

“At a certain point, the coach used him. And then it is not me, it is about the player because he played fantastic. That is why he is playing not because I told the coach that he is great. It is because he is a really great player. Now, he is the captain of his team.”

– “He is so calm,” Gomez added. “You just have the feeling that nothing fazes Endo and that he can deal with any situation. He is a great player, and I admire him.”

– “There was no uncertainty over what Endo could bring to the club,” former Stuttgart sporting director Sven Mislintat said in April 2020.

“As a player and as a person, he’s simply incredibly valuable. He’s one of these anchors, a focal point in our system. Whether he plays as a centre-back or as a defensive midfielder, it’s good that he’s there and performs.”

– “With his footballing qualities, his mentality, and his professionalism, Wataru is a leader in the most literal sense of the word,” Mislintat said in November 2020.

– “He’s the most important person [on] the pitch,” former Stuttgart manager Pellegrino Matarazzo told echo24 in 2020. “I’m thankful he remains injury-free and can continue to play for us.”

– “It’s important for me that our captain can take everyone with him, that he embodies the values we stand for and is an example to follow,” Matarazzo said. “I have chosen Wataru Endo because he’s also someone who leaves room for other players to take responsibility.”

– Matarazzo and Mislintat have also referred to Endo as a “soldier”, a “bodyguard” and the “heartbeat” of the Stuttgart team.

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