Why Takumi Minamino could play a key role for Southampton
The Saints managed to get an eleventh-hour move over the line for the 26-year-old, whose arrival was announced just a couple of hours after Monday’s winter deadline. Minamino has been roped in with a view to replacing Shane Long, who also completed a move to Championship side Bournemouth on deadline day.
Minamino was made available for a loan move after struggling for game time at Anfield over the past 12 months. He started only four PL fixtures for the Reds following his arrival from RB Salzburg in a £7.25m deal back in January 2020. Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has hailed Minamino as the right player for the club.
Southampton’s dip in form
Southampton took everyone by surprise with their stellar start to the season back in September. The Saints spent several weeks in and around the top-four places but have slipped down the standings as a result of their downturn in form over the past month and a half.
The Hampshire outfit have won just one of their last seven games in the Premier League, failing to find the net in five of those fixtures. From a neutral point of view, Southampton have been a treat to watch this season, thanks to their high-intensity brand of football under Hasenhuttl.
However, the Saints’ recent struggles in finding the net present a real concern heading into a crucial second half of the campaign.
Southampton have relied heavily on their influential striking duo of Che Adams and Danny Ings to deliver the goods in front of goal. Both players have lived up to the expectations, with Adams (4 goals, 4 assists) and Ings (7 goals, 3 assists) among the standout performers in the final third.
The Saints have, however, lacked significant goal contributions from some of their other attackers. Theo Walcott, though a livewire and a regular starter, has scored just twice in 15 games. The same goes for Moussa Djenepo, who has promised a lot but hasn’t translated that into meaningful returns.
With youngsters Nathan Tella and Michael Obafemi both ruled out due to injuries and Walcott also struggling for fitness, there will surely be a few worry lines starting to appear on Hasenhuttl’s forehead.
Minamino an ideal signing for Southampton?
Southampton had great success with a loan deal for Kyle Walker-Peters last January, with the former Tottenham star eventually joining the Saints permanently this past summer.
And they could be about to repeat that same trick with Minamino, whose arrival on deadline day has undoubtedly handed a massive boost to Hasenhuttl’s attack.
The 26-year-old struggled to make a big impression at Liverpool but that doesn’t really have a lot to do with his footballing calibre. Minamino was hardly afforded enough game time to prove his mettle. A temporary switch to St. Mary’s has now opened an excellent window for him to live up to his potential in English football.
Minamino’s versatility to play anywhere across the forward line would offer Hasenhuttl valuable cover in multiple areas up top. The Japanese star’s inclusion is also likely to ensure better competition for places during an important period of the season.
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The Liverpool loanee’s past exploits at Salzburg in the Champions League prove that he is capable of playing at a very high level. It’s just a matter of bringing the best out of him in the Premier League. Southampton would have a real gem on their hands if Hasenhuttl manages to restore his confidence with regular game time.