Takumi Minamino was last night showered in praise by both a Liverpool teammate and the club’s boss, after netting his first goal in the colours of the Reds.
Jurgen Klopp’s men kicked off the 2020/21 English season 24 hours ago, in a Community Shield meeting with Arsenal.
The Merseysiders of course booked their spot in this year’s edition of the showpiece after bringing an end to the club’s lengthy wait for Premier League glory last time out.
As such, it was Liverpool, rather than the FA Cup-holding Gunners, who were widely viewed as favourites ahead of kick-off.
When all was said and done at Wembley, however, it was Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal who went on to clinch their 2nd piece of silverware in the space of a month.
After Takumi Minamino had cancelled out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s early opener, the clash was eventually forced to penalties.
And a solitary missed spot-kick from Liverpool youngster Rhian Brewster, in the end, proved telling, as Arteta’s impressive start to life in the dugout continued.
Highlights: Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool (5-4 after penalties)
‘Coming out of his shell’
For Liverpool, on the other hand, for the 2nd-year straight, the Reds have fallen to defeat in the campaign’s curtain-raiser.
As outlined above, though, on an otherwise disappointing evening for the club, there was one positive takeaway from proceedings at Wembley.
This came in the form of the performance of Takumi Minamino.
Japanese attacker Minamino was introduced off the bench with half an hour to play versus Arsenal, with the 25-year-old having gone on to add some much-needed energy to Liverpool’s attack.
This impetus eventually saw Minamino rewarded late on, when he netted his first goal in the Reds’ colours from close range.
And two individuals who certainly appeared to be impressed by the impact of the January Anfield arrival were Virgil van Dijk and Jurgen Klopp.
Speaking in separate post-match interviews last night, the pair were full of praise for Minamino, who was first hailed by teammate van Dijk for ‘coming out of his shell’:
‘I think Taki has been very good. After lockdown he has been the Taki that we all saw when we played against him at Salzburg.’
‘He is very, very energetic and he is a fantastic player. It’s good for him that he’s coming out of his shell and for us as well.’
Quotes via Liverpoolfc.com
Klopp, meanwhile, praised Minamino’s sharpness, before assuring that the former Salzburg standout will go on to ‘have an impact’ with Liverpool:
‘It was big for him and big for us because it was the only thing he lacked since he is with us.’
‘He didn’t score a goal [before], but had situations and was close in plenty of moments. That helped of course. The shape he is in is obviously good, I think everybody could see when he came on.’
‘Then, the goal is more or less the logical step after performing on the level he performs now, especially in the pre-season. I am very pleased for him; it was very important for us to stay in the game and for him, just to make this first important step.’
‘He can have an impact, that’s why we signed him. That’s easily said. I don’t want to put, after one or two really good performances in the pre-season, massive pressure on his shoulders that there’s absolutely no need for.’