Ralph Hasenhuttl firmly believes that Takumi Minamino can flourish on the south coast before his loan spell from Liverpool comes to an end.
Attacker Minamino left Anfield on deadline day in an 11th-hour deal after struggling for game time.
However, his switch to the south coast comes as no surprise; Hasenhuttl, who used to manage RB Leipzig, employs football philosophies widely in line with Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp.
Minamino enjoyed less than 10 minutes of Premier League action following his goal against Crystal Palace in early December.
However, Hasenhuttl says that the Japan international could start in Saturday’s match against Newcastle.
“Last winter I was really disappointed we could not get a player like him in, because he was coming from Salzburg and he went to Liverpool,” Hasenhuttl told reporters (via the Liverpool Echo).
“I understand he played fantastic games against them in the Champions League.
“I am sure he will fit to our game, because he knows all the habits we need, and that means we need to bring him to the position where he can help us the most and he must help us then with good decision-making, with good passes, with good dribbling and hopefully he scores a few goals for us, that would be helpful.”
Minamino remained largely on the periphery of Liverpool’s attack, despite their front three struggling for goals in recent weeks.
Indeed, Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri earned chances ahead of the 26-year-old.
However, Hasenhuttl has already built up a strong base for communication with the dynamic forward.
Hasenhuttl optimistic about Minamino
Asked about Saturday’s clash with Newcastle, the Austrian said: “It should be possible [that he starts]. I know he didn’t play so much in the past, but he’s fit. He knows a little bit about the pressing football we want to play.
“It’s good that he understands everything I want to tell him, not only because he is also speaking German – and I think at the moment his German is better than his English – but it is also helpful for me because I can explain to him everything.
“He is a good guy, and you see immediately the quality he has on the ball. I don’t expect now for him to decide the game on the weekend for us immediately.
“I think when he plays a proper game and helps us in every part of the game then we are more successful I think with him.”
Southampton head into their match against the Magpies having struggled for goals of late. In fact, they have only scored once in their past four Premier League outings.