Takumi Minamino appears to have played his final match for Red Bull Salzburg after missing their 2-2 draw with Hartberg on Saturday – the club’s final match before a two-month winter break.
Liverpool are on the verge of signing the Japan international for a bargain £7.25m after it was revealed earlier in the week that the Reds had accelerated their plans to sign him.
And with details emerging about how the club’s transfer guru / sporting director Michael Edwards worked behind the scenes to secure the deal, it seems Minamino’s last game for the Austrian champions came against his would-be next employers during last Tuesday’s Champions League clash.
And according to the latest reports, Minamino will now complete his move to Liverpool on January 1 and has been slotted in to take his place in their matchday squad for the first time on Sunday 5 January when they face Everton in the FA Cup third round.
After a hectic December and festive period, Klopp is likely to continue utilising his squad for cup competitions and widespread reports believe that the 24-year-old could feature in the match at Anfield.
Minamino has twice faced Liverpool this season the Champions League and he left a huge impression on Klopp’s players, with their stars reportedly urging their manager to snap him up after last week’s game, very much unaware that the wheels were already in motion over the deal.
it has emerged that Liverpool had been keeping tabs on Minamino since 2013, it is understood they accelerated their pursuit in November after learning of interest from Premier League rivals Manchester United and a number of Bundesliga and Serie A clubs.
Sources believe it would be an “outstanding” deal as Minamino’s current market value is at least three times the value of his buy-out clause and the club are confident – providing there are no issues with his medical or personal terms – the deal will be completed early next month.
Takumi Minamino, scorer of the second Salzburg goal… my god, one of the best performances I’ve ever seen by an opposition player at Anfield. After one outrageous turn near the centre circle, I tapped the lad next to me and said, “that number 18’s some player”. Often such comments backfire but he was sensational. For the second goal, I could see how much space he was in and was thinking ‘mark him, mark him’. A superb ball picked Minamino out and he thumped home a superb volley to cut the lead to 3-2.
Minamino is seen as a key player for his country, scoring five goals in his last four World Cup qualifiers, and national team boss Hajime Moriyasu believes the playmaker should be at a top European club.
Sources have also dismissed as “ludicrous” claims the club are signing Minamino for his commercial value in the Asian market with the decision based on football ability and suitability within Klopp’s squad.
Minamino will depart Salzburg having scored nine times across 22 appearances this season.