Takumi Minamino is officially a Liverpool player. A transfer story that broke suddenly has been wrapped up well before Christmas, let alone the January window opening.

The Reds had barely touched down after playing Salzburg in the Champions League when journalists in the know began reporting a potential deal. Within hours, the Austrian club officially confirmed negotiations were taking place after a reported £7.25million release clause was met.

Liverpool saw what the Japan international can offer during the two games between the teams in Europe.

Indeed, Minamino has already scored at Anfield, finding the net in a 4-3 loss back in October. There is a video on Twitter of Jurgen Klopp nodding his head approvingly at that goal, cheekily suggesting he knew all along what was going to happen in the long run.

Minamino was also lively in the first half of the return fixture in Austria, although he was unable to prevent the hosts slipping to a defeat that resulted in them dropping into the Europa League.

However, the 24-year-old can look forward to further outings in the Champions League. A rule change by UEFA means any new addition is cleared for the knockout stages, even if they have played for someone else in the competition that same season.

The Breakdown

Outside of the player’s abilities – more on those to come – one of the main attractions to the deal for Liverpool has to be the price. According to reports, the clause in Minamino's contract means he was available for just £7.25million, a pittance by current prices.

The transfer is a low-risk, high-reward move. Klopp did not desperately need a new addition in the January window, but adding to a position of strength is never a bad thing.

Minamino will not be leaned on heavily to provide immediately; Liverpool's first-choice frontline – Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino – is obvious.

However, what their latest recruit offers is something different to the rest of the supporting cast. Divock Origi is a solid standby who has developed the happy knack of scoring in big games, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain seems better suited to a central role in midfield and Xherdan Shaqiri provides no little skill but lacks the top-end speed to run in behind.

While often used on the flanks, Minamino has also played through the middle for Salzburg, both as a centre-forward and also a supporting midfielder in behind the leading frontman. Such versatility, considering the small fee, suggests the English club may have grabbed a bargain ahead of the January sales.

Klopp has added a new dimension to the rotation – and he seemingly likes the way Salzburg develop talent. Mane and Naby Keita both spent time there previously, though they went to Southampton and RB Leipzig respectively before making it to Merseyside. This time, Liverpool have cut out the middle man and gone straight to the source.

Minamino in Opta numbers

Signed from Cerezo Osaka at the start of 2015, Minamino hit double figures for league goals in his first two seasons, though his output dried up a little in the following campaigns.

Still, under Jesse Marsch this term, he has scored five goals and registered the same number of assists in 14 appearances in the Austrian Bundesliga, 11 of which were starts. No Salzburg player has created more goals.

He averages a goal or assist every 91 minutes in domestic action in 2019-20, with that number rising slightly to 102 in the Champions League. It should be remembered, however, that as well as Liverpool, Salzburg were also in contention to qualify from a group that included Serie A runners-up Napoli.

Minamino comes out well in comparison to Liverpool's other forwards. In Europe, only Roberto Firmino can match his three assists this season, while he has a shot conversion rate of 18.18, a fraction below the dynamic duo of Mane and Salah (both 20).

His passing accuracy in the opposing half of 73.38 per cent is lower than all his new team-mates bar Salah (72.19), who may find he is afforded more opportunities to play down the middle in the second half of the campaign.

His impact in the final third matches up well to Salah and Mane in the Champions League: Minamino created 12 chances this season, more than Salah (nine) and just one fewer than Mane.

That said, his impact when running with the ball appears more limited, Minamino having completed just nine dribbles compared to 15 for Mane and 16 for Salah.

Minamino - who will wear shirt number 18 - on the Reds: "Their football is of such a high level and I did feel that they were the champions of the Champions League. Feeling that, it makes me feel even happier that I can play in this team. I'm really happy to be part of that team."

Jurgen Klopp raved about Takumi Minamino's work ethic and attitude as he welcomed Liverpool's "wonderful" mid-season signing.

Salzburg attacking midfielder Minamino will link up with the Premier League leaders on January 1 after completing a medical and agreeing a long-term contract on Monday.

The Reds triggered his reported £7.25million release clause after observing the 24-year-old in their two Champions League victories over the Austrian Bundesliga side.

Klopp said he expects Japan international Minamino to slot comfortably into the high-intensity playing style that delivered European glory last season.

"This is fabulous news – a wonderful signing. We are really, really happy about this," Klopp told the Liverpool website.

"Our supporters have had the chance to see him close up recently, so I don't need to sing too loudly about his qualities as they are already known.

"Takumi is a very quick, very clever player, he finds space between the lines. He is brave with the ball but also brave without the ball – a proper team player. He makes the best of himself for the benefit of others.

"His Champions League experience is a big bonus and coming from the club and organisation he does, we know he'll be well coached, used to an elite environment and had all the right experiences."

Minamino joined Salzburg from Cerezo Osaka in January 2015 and scored 64 goals in 199 appearances for the Austrian club, adding 44 assists.

He was on target against Liverpool at Anfield in October and struck in Salzburg's crushing 4-1 Champions League win over Genk the following month.

"It is fantastic work by our football operations team in how they've handled this transfer," Klopp said.

"[Sporting director] Michael Edwards and the team deserve a lot of credit."

Liverpool have completed the capture of Salzburg winger Takumi Minamino for a reported £7.25million fee.

The Japan international will link up with the Premier League leaders when the transfer window opens on January 1.

Minamino, 24, passed a medical and finalised personal terms on Wednesday and will become the club's first mid-season arrival since Virgil van Dijk joined from Southampton two years ago.

Reports of the Reds' interest gathered pace after Minamino shone for Salzburg in a Champions League loss to Liverpool this month.

The Cerezo Osaka product scored at Anfield in their first Group E encounter in October and said he was thrilled to be moving to the European champions.

"It has been a dream, my dream to become a Liverpool player. And I'm so excited that the moment has come true," Minamino told his new club's website.

"To play in the Premier League was one of my targets. I think this is the top-class league in the world. I was thinking if my career as a footballer progressed smoothly, someday I would be able to play in the Premier League.

"But I never thought I would be able to play in this team and I'm really happy about it. I'm looking forward to it."

Minamino was left highly impressed with the "technique and intensity" he witnessed in the games against Jurgen Klopp's side and wants to boost the club's bid for further silverware.

"Their football is of such a high level and I did feel that they were the champions of the Champions League," said the attacker, who will leave Salzburg after five years that yielded 42 goals at 20 assists in the Austrian Bundesliga.

"Feeling that, it makes me feel even happier that I can play in this team. I'm really happy to be part of that team.

"My target is to win the Premier League and the Champions League, and to make good contributions to the team."

Liverpool have completed the capture of Salzburg winger Takumi Minamino for a reported £7.25million fee.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel claims Neymar is happy at the club and his own relationship with the forward has never been better.

Neymar was involved in a transfer saga earlier in the year, with a possible return to Barcelona failing to materialise before the deadline.

PSG fans initially gave the Brazil international a hostile reception on his return to first-team action, but he has reintegrated himself with some key performances.

With the January transfer window fast approaching, Tuchel insisted Neymar, 27, was in a good frame of mind in the French capital.

"Between him and me, not much has changed," Tuchel said at a news conference ahead of the Coupe de la Ligue clash with Le Mans on Wednesday.

"We have always had a good relationship. He's happy and expects the team to continue to grow. 

"He is accepted in the dressing room. He is extraordinary and is gaining physical capacity at the moment. 

"He still has a big heart, he always speaks frankly. He loves football and playing in a competitive team. We can enjoy it, it's great."

Neymar could be rested for the midweek fixture with Le Mans after Tuchel confirmed he will rotate his squad.

"This meeting is also an opportunity to give playing time to certain players," Tuchel said.

"Le Mans is a very aggressive, offensive team that can score goals. I expect a very courageous team in a big atmosphere. 

"We have to respect the opponent, the competition. It is up to us to show our quality - Le Mans will have nothing to lose."

Tuchel also revealed his excitement at the Champions League draw, which pitted PSG against former club Borussia Dortmund in the last 16 of the competition.

He added: "In the round of 16, anything can happen, it's a great team in Germany.

"It's a special match for me. I have a lot of friends, I lived there three years; it's an extraordinary stadium."

Pep Guardiola described Manchester City's Champions League last-16 tie with Real Madrid as an "incredible test" for his side.

Premier League champions City have been pitted against Zinedine Zidane's men in arguably the tie of the round and will travel to the Santiago Bernabeu for the first leg on February 26.

Zidane led Madrid to three Champions League titles in his first spell in charge. He returned to the club in March and Madrid go into Wednesday's Clasico level on points with arch rivals Barcelona.

However, Guardiola is undaunted by the prospect of playing Madrid at a relatively early stage in the tournament. 

He told a news conference ahead of Wednesday's EFL Cup quarter-final with Oxford United: "We are happy just to be in the last 16 of the competition even if people think that's not enough.

"If you want to do well in this competition, to progress further than that, then of course you have to face this sort of opponent sooner or later

"It will be an incredible test for us but we have two months to prepare for it. Hopefully we will be in a good moment in February and we can play a good two games.

"Real Madrid have a lot more experience than us in this situation, they have played this sort of game many more times, but of course I have confidence in my players."

Asked about his counterpart in the dugout, Guardiola replied: "That never happened but I used to dream of playing with Zidane.

"He was an incredible player, and he's an incredible person. I have always admired him and it will be a pleasure to meet him again."

The Champions League draw gives Barca legend Guardiola even more of a reason to be an interested observer of the Clasico, though the EFL Cup commitments means he will have to delay his scouting assignment.

"I think both teams are in a good moment. I saw highlights. The results they arrive in a good moment and I always thought the team that plays at home has a little bit of advantage," Guardiola said of the Camp Nou clash.

"We cannot watch because we have a game but in the next days if I have time I will watch because Madrid is the next rival in the Champions League."

Neymar has denied a rivalry exists with Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe.

The pair are two of the most valuable players in the world and have accounted for nine of PSG's 14 goals over the past four matches in all competitions.

Head coach Thomas Tuchel applauded their partnership following the recent 3-1 win over Montpellier and both will need to shine if the Ligue 1 side are to achieve Champions League glory this season.

There have been suggestions that France international Mbappe, 20, has occasionally felt frustrated with perceived favouritism towards Neymar, but the Brazilian insists there is no hidden animosity in their friendship.

"My relationship with Kylian is very good," Neymar told France Football.

"We are good friends and help each other to win matches, to score goals. I feel that there is something special. There is no competition between us.

"We help each other to score goals. When one of us scores, he tells the other one: 'now is your time.'

"This is the way to be in football – be a good team-mate, otherwise things won't go well."

PSG's next game is away to Le Mans in the Coupe de la Ligue on Wednesday.

Tuchel's side were paired with his old employers, Borussia Dortmund, when the draw for the Champions League last 16 was made on Monday.

Cristiano Ronaldo would have won the Ballon d'Or if he played for Real Madrid, according to the Juventus superstar's agent Jorge Mendes.

Ronaldo – a five-time Ballon d'Or winner – has not claimed the individual award since leaving Madrid for Juve in 2018, with Luka Modric and Lionel Messi honoured in back-to-back seasons.

Messi received a record sixth Ballon d'Or this month as Portugal international Ronaldo finished third behind the Barcelona captain and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk.

"Cristiano deserved to win the Ballon d'Or at least once in the last two years," Mendes said. "If he had played at Real Madrid, he would have won it, but next year I think he can win it again.

"For me it is an injustice [that Cristiano hasn't won the Ballon d'Or]. He won the Nations League and he is a champion.

"But he knows what he should do and then we will see what happens in 2020."

Ronaldo has enjoyed an illustrious career, winning five Champions League trophies, Euro 2016, the Premier League, Serie A, LaLiga and the Nations League among others.

On the 34-year-old forward, Mendes added: "Cristiano for me is the best player in the history of world football.

"Portugal before Cristiano had won nothing. With Cristiano they have won the European Championship and Nations League, [while] in 2004 they were a finalist in the European Championship too.

"He transformed world football. We are talking about Portugal, a small country that has changed a lot thanks to Cristiano."

Ronaldo has scored 11 goals across all competitions for Italian champions Juventus this season, nine of those coming in Serie A.

Juventus vice president Pavel Nedved is backing Cristiano Ronaldo to spearhead their Champions League challenge now the forward has regained full fitness.

Ronaldo scored twice in Sunday's 3-1 win over Udinese as the Serie A champions ended the weekend level on points with Inter at the top of the table.

The 34-year-old had failed to net in four Juve games in November amid injury problems and a rumoured unhappiness with coach Maurizio Sarri, who substituted him against Lokomotiv Moscow and Milan.

Nedved now thinks the former Real Madrid star is back to full form and fitness, as evidenced by his performance against Udinese, in which he combined with Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain to impressive effect.

And Nedved hopes Ronaldo can make the difference when Juve face Lyon in the last 16 of the Champions League in 2020.

"He is a champion and when he's needed, he's always there," Nedved said of Ronaldo after Monday's draw. "He had some physical problems and is now back in good form.

"It's nice to see Cristiano, Dybala and Higuain all playing together, and they can all be on the pitch at once if all three run and sacrifice themselves like they did yesterday against Udinese.

"The coach naturally evaluates the state of form of each one when he makes his choices and, at the moment, they are all in form and you can see it."

Nedved believes the draw was a positive one for Juve, although he acknowledges Sarri's side must not allow their form to drop in the run-up to the Lyon tie, with the first leg taking place in France on February 26.

"We can't complain, considering that last year we drew Atletico [Madrid], but if you're not in form when the Champions League comes back around between February and March, there is little that you can do," he said.

"The precedents are favourable to us, but they do not count for anything - only the form in the moment counts.

"The Champions League must not be an obsession but a concrete goal. We, like other teams, want to win the final, but in the Champions League, one mistake can send you out."

Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller think Bayern Munich should be confident of beating Chelsea in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The Bundesliga champions will meet Frank Lampard's side in a repeat of the 2011-12 final, which Chelsea won on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Munich.

Neuer and Muller played in that heart-breaking home defeat for Bayern, who responded in the 2012-13 season by winning the treble, which included a Champions League final triumph over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley.

With Bayern having recaptured some better form since Hansi Flick took over as interim coach from Niko Kovac, particularly excelling in Europe, Neuer thinks his side can take "a healthy level of confidence" into the tie.

"We're looking forward to London, where we've had some good experiences," the goalkeeper said via Bayern's website. "They're a dangerous team, who we have to take very seriously and approach with concentration.

"Obviously, we want to get through to the next round. I think we can go into the games with a healthy level of confidence. We're happy with the draw: it's against an attractive and good team."

Muller said the 2012 final "has no relevance" to the last-16 tie, adding: "It's clear that you're not going to get any small teams in the Champions League last 16. We're fairly confident. I'm feeling good about the draw.

"Chelsea have players who can hurt us, though. They have individuals in attack whose qualities are well-known.

"But it's about the team performance, not individuals. My good feeling is based on us feeling very happy as a team at the moment. We want to be the favourites and justify that."

Full-back Joshua Kimmich said: "We'll go into the games with confidence. It's still a long way off, so we can't yet say what form the teams will be in, but I believe we'll go into it as favourites and I'm confident we'll progress.

"They're difficult to assess; they're not really on a consistent run at the moment."

Lampard has good memories of facing Bayern, having been part of the 2012 team but also one that beat Bayern in the quarter-finals in 2004-05, scoring twice in the game at Stamford Bridge.

"It's a tough draw, but a good draw," he told Chelsea TV. "We knew that when we get through the group stages, you're generally in with some big teams, and we have certainly drawn one.

"We have history with them, of course, but these will be games in themselves that will be very testing. We will be ready for the challenge.

"We had some games before the Champions League final. In 2005, we had a really good game at the Bridge. I scored two and we put in a really good performance. Obviously, the night in Munich is the defining night of my career.

"I'm sure the fans who will travel there will remember the game well, but it'll be very different and very taxing.

"This level of football, the Champions League knockout phase, the level of focus that you need is absolute, for both games. We want to be at our best going into the games, but the concentration levels and how we approach it will be the deciding factors.

"We should be confident we can beat Bayern Munich, but I understand that they're very strong."

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde insists Napoli will be dangerous opponents in the Champions League last 16.

The Catalans were pitted against the Serie A side in Monday's knockout-stage draw in Nyon, with the first leg to take place at the San Paolo on February 25.

Napoli have endured a tough season domestically, their 2-1 loss at home to Parma on Saturday leaving them in eighth place, 18 points off leaders Inter and Juventus.

Despite some poor league results, which led to Carlo Ancelotti's departure as head coach and the appointment of Gennaro Gattuso, Napoli finished Champions League Group E unbeaten and are the only team to have beaten holders Liverpool in any competition this season.

Valverde believes Barca will need to be at their sharpest if they are to progress to the quarter-finals, even though his side triumphed 4-0 in their most recent meeting in pre-season.

"Napoli are a dangerous team," he told Barca TV. "Clearly, they're not going through their best moment. They've had a change of coach and they'll have to adapt bit by bit.

"We'll see how they are and how everyone is heading into February, but without a doubt, we'll have to prepare for the tie really well.

"It'll be a strong atmosphere, with a big stadium, one of those where the fans are very close. But that's fine. In that sense, we're used to playing in front of atmospheres of this kind and it'll be beautiful to experience everything in general around Napoli as a city."

Gattuso, meanwhile, has promised Napoli will go into the tie determined to give a strong account of themselves.

"Barcelona are a great team and it will be a big challenge across two fascinating games," he said. "We'll show no fear."

Jurgen Klopp acknowledged Liverpool have a tough Champions League draw against Atletico Madrid, but he pointed out opposite number Diego Simeone would be disappointed to face the holders.

Liverpool topped their group ahead of Napoli and their bid for a second consecutive European crown takes them back to the Wanda Metropolitano - the scene of last season's final - to face dangerous LaLiga giants Atleti.

Klopp suggested he anticipated a return to Madrid, while recognition of a testing fixture was tempered by the strength of a last-16 draw containing only clubs from Europe's 'top five' leagues.

"It's an interesting draw," Klopp told his club's official website. "Before the draw, I actually thought it would be Madrid - either one of the two clubs - and that's the way it is.

"Madrid is the place where we only have fantastic memories, all of us, so that's great, but this time we play Atletico there and it's their home ground.

"It's a tough one, but if you go through all of the draws, there are pretty much four or five potential finals already in the last 16.

"So, really, really good; a good draw, a difficult game like it should be, but I don't think Mr Simeone is running through his living room and is happy that he got Liverpool.

"It will be a tough game. Two teams who are used to playing intense football. Different styles and slightly different organisation, of course, but both are ready for intensity and that makes it pretty tough for both."

Reflecting on the draw as a whole, which saw Premier League rivals Manchester City paired with 13-time champions Real Madrid, Klopp added: "I think I said last time that it is somehow the strongest ever last 16 or last eight, but it looks like it becomes stronger and stronger every year."

Real Madrid are well aware of the challenge they face after being drawn with Manchester City in the last 16 of the Champions League, but club director Emilio Butragueno remains bullish given Los Blancos' pedigree.

Madrid would have been braced for a testing tie after they finished second to Paris Saint-Germain in the group stage, with the Ligue 1 champions coasting to top spot.

Like PSG, City made similarly light work of their pool, claiming twice as many points as second-placed Atalanta and avoiding a single defeat.

The contest will see former Barcelona player and coach Pep Guardiola go up against his old foes, as City's credentials look set for an immediate examination in the knockout stages.

Although Butragueno suggested City's financial muscle makes them a difficult obstacle, he is taking heart from Madrid's experience at this level.

"All teams are difficult at this point," he told reporters. "City are a very powerful opponent. It will be an exciting tie and we have to prepare well. They will demand the best from us.

"They have invested a lot of money, but we are Real Madrid and we are in a position to face anyone. We are accustomed to these types of matches and it will be great for the fans."

Like Guardiola, City director of football Txiki Begiristain spent much of his playing career at Barca and knows Madrid's capabilities all too well, but he sees the February tie as an opportunity for the Premier League champions.

"It's a difficult one, of course," he told BT Sport. "Real Madrid have won [the competition] 13 times, so they're the best.

"We want to be the best, so we want to beat them. It is always a pleasure to go to Real Madrid and play in a big stadium like the Santiago Bernabeu.

"We know what we are going to face, but they know our team and our manager, too. I think we have to keep connected to all of the competitions and we will have chances to win some.

"In the league, Liverpool are many points ahead, but we have to be connected."

Manchester United and Arsenal were handed tricky Europa League last-32 ties against Club Brugge and Olympiacos respectively, while Inter take on Ludogorets.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United side face Belgian outfit Brugge, who finished third in a Champions League group including Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.

The Red Devils, winners of the competition in 2016-17, topped their Europa League pool, losing just once with a youthful side at Astana.

Struggling Arsenal will have been eyeing a more favourable draw than Olympiacos, who are familiar with north London having faced Tottenham in the Champions League.

Inter were unfortunate not to make the last 16 of the Champions League, losing out to Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund, but Antonio Conte's side will fancy their chances against Bulgarian side Ludogorets.

Sevilla, who are the competition's most successful club, with five wins across the UEFA Cup and Europa League, will have to overcome Cluj to make the last 16.

Old Firm duo Celtic and Rangers take on Copenhagen and Braga, while Premier League side Wolves lock horns with LaLiga strugglers Espanyol.

Ajax, Champions League semi-finalists last season, also face Spanish opposition in the form of Getafe, and Roma – who reached the last four of Europe's premier competition in 2017-18 – go up against Gent.

Bayer Leverkusen take on two-time winners Porto in one of the round's stand-out ties, as Shakhtar Donetsk and Benfica – two demoted Champions League outfits – face off.

Having impressed against Liverpool and Napoli, Salzburg play Eintracht Frankfurt.

First-leg games take place on February 20, with the return fixtures a week later.

Pep Guardiola will renew rivalries with Real Madrid after Manchester City were drawn to face Los Blancos in a blockbuster Champions League last-16 tie.

With City 14 points adrift of leaders Liverpool in the Premier League, success in Europe is likely to be Guardiola's main priority this season.

But their hopes of glory in the continent's premier club competition were not helped by a daunting clash with LaLiga giants Madrid, who have triumphed in four of the past six editions.

Guardiola is no stranger to Madrid having spent four years in charge of their fierce Clasico rivals Barcelona, while he was Bayern Munich coach when they were defeated 5-0 over two legs in the 2013-14 Champions League semi-finals.

Madrid have previous against City in the competition, too, coming out on top in a last-four clash in the 2015-16 campaign.

Holders Liverpool face Atletico Madrid – runners-up in 2013-14 and 2015-16 – in a return to the Wanda Metropolitano, the scene of the Reds' 2-0 win over Tottenham in last season's final as they became European champions for a sixth time.

Jurgen Klopp's side finished top of Group E by a solitary point from Napoli, who have the unenvious task of facing LaLiga champions Barcelona – aiming to get their hands on European football's most coveted prize for the first time since 2014-15.

In a draw brimming with sub-plots, Thomas Tuchel will return to Borussia Dortmund with his Paris Saint-Germain side, while Chelsea and Bayern Munich – the only team to win all six of their group-stage games – face off in what is a rematch of the 2011-2012 final.

Tottenham, aiming to beat their runners-up finish last term, go head-to-head with an RB Leipzig side playing in the knockout stages for the first time.

Juventus will start as favourites in their tie against Lyon, while fellow Serie A side Atalanta – who made the last 16 in their first endeavour into the Champions League – go up against Valencia for a place in the quarter-finals.

The first-leg matches will take place on February 18, 19, 25 and 26, with the return fixtures played on March 10, 11, 17 and 18.

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