Klopp salutes Liverpool ace Minamino and reveals Firmino fitness update

By Sports Desk September 21, 2021

Jurgen Klopp hailed Takumi Minamino as a "top character" after the Japanese forward fired Liverpool past Norwich City in the EFL Cup.

The Japan forward's two goals, either side of a header from Divock Origi, guided the Reds to a 3-0 win at Carrow Road.

Minamino's influence at Liverpool has not reached the levels some expected it might after he joined from Salzburg in January of last year, and he spent the second half of the 2020-21 season at Southampton.

For now he is back at Liverpool and keen to make an impression, and a smart turn and finish for Liverpool's opening goal was an example of his quality.

A recent minor knock set Minamino back slightly, but he looked sharp against the Canaries as both sides made sweeping personnel changes for the cup clash.

"Players need time to get back on track after an injury. But Taki is in a really good moment," Klopp said in a post-game news conference.

"He trained very well and deserved his two goals. For the first one he showed really good awareness, quick in mind and finished the situation off.

"He was really good in pre-season then he got injured, and now the rest of the season can start. 

"He was injured at the wrong moment. Coming back, it's sometimes not so easy, but he is a top character obviously and enjoyed the game tonight and that was important for him and important for us, so that will help him and it helped us."

Although Minamino caught the eye, his prospects of a run in Klopp's Premier League team look remote for now and it may be his appearances prove sporadic, spread across competitions.

Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino returned to training on Monday, Klopp said, after a hamstring injury lay-off, and when fit he remains ahead of Minamino in the pecking order.

"It is not too far away when he will play again," Klopp said of Firmino.

Liverpool's manager watched on appreciatively as teenagers Tyler Morton, Kaide Gordon and Conor Bradley helped Liverpool get the job done, all three making their first-team debuts.

"I'm really happy for the boys, it was a big one for all three," said Klopp. "These boys are good and thank God they're ours."

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    The 33-year-old scored 41 Bundesliga goals last season, breaking a record for the most in the division that was previously held by Gerd Muller.

    "I think that you always can give it to Lionel Messi for the career he has and the footballer he is, all these kinds of things, but if you don't give it to Robert Lewandowski this time then it's quite tricky to get it at all," said the Liverpool boss.

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    Liverpool can break a long-standing record on Wednesday, which is one of numerous incentives. Klopp's team have scored at least twice in each of their last 17 games in all competitions, the joint-longest such run in history by an English top-flight side, level with Sunderland in 1927.

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