Takumi Minamino 南野 拓実

Source: Wikipedia

Minamino with Red Bull Salzburg in 2018

Takumi Minamino (南野 拓実 Minamino Takumi, born 16 January 1995) is a Japanese professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder or winger for Red Bull Salzburg and the Japan national team. He will join Liverpool on 1 January 2020.

Minamino began his club career at J. League club Cerezo Osaka in 2012 and in his first season he was named J. League Rookie of the Year. In 2014 he moved to Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg with whom he spent four successful seasons. Following his displays for the club in the UEFA Champions League he agreed to join Premier League club Liverpool in December 2019.

Making his senior international debut for Japan in 2015, Minamino starred in the team that reached the final of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

Early Life

While at elementary school Minamino played for the local club Sessel Kumatori. Growing up he was inspired by the finishing and dribbling of Brazilian striker Ronaldo, who top scored at the 2002 World Cup which Japan co-hosted when Minamino was seven. He would watch videos of Ronaldo’s feints, and would go outside to practise. He was also inspired by his older brother Kenta, and their father would put cones down in a car park for them to dribble in and out of at speed.

Club Career

Cerezo Osaka

Minamino joined Cerezo Osaka youth team at age 12 and progressed through the academy. While at the Cerezo academy, players such as Shinji Kagawa was in the first team, and Minamino would watch them up close and train with them. He broke into the first team in 2013 and scored his first J1 League goal against Júbilo Iwata on July 7th, 2013, becoming the youngest goal scorer for the club. Minamino went on to win the 2013 J League best newcomer award; previous winners include Takashi Usami (2010), Hiroki Sakai (2011) and Gaku Shibasaki (2012). His second and last season was a more struggling one, with the club eventually getting relegated. In total, he made 62 J1 League appearances for Cerezo Osaka, scoring 7 league goals.

Red Bull Salzburg

FC Red Bull Salzburg tracked him for a year and a half before signing him on 7 January 2015, on a contract running until 2018 with the option of a further year. He made his European debut on 26 February, playing the first half of a 1–3 home defeat (2–5 aggregate) to Villarreal in the second leg of the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League before being replaced by Felipe Pires.

During the 2017-18 season Salzburg had their best ever European campaign. They finished top of their Europa League group, for a record fourth time, before beating Real Sociedad and Borussia Dortmund thus making their first ever appearance in the UEFA Europa League semi-final. On 3 May 2018, he played in the Europa League semi-finals as Olympique de Marseille played out a 1–2 away loss but a 3–2 aggregate win to secure a place in the 2018 UEFA Europa League Final On 8 November 2018, Minamino had his first-half hat-trick in a 5–2 victory over Rosenborg in a 2018–19 UEFA Europa League Group B match.

Liverpool

In December 2019, Liverpool agreed a deal to sign Minamino from Salzburg in January 2020 after activating his £7.25 million release clause. Salzburg’s sporting director Christoph Freund commented that “The big clubs have been watching him and, if I was them, I’d have no hesitation to sign him. Takumi is ready to make the next step in January.” On 18 December 2019, he had his Liverpool medical in preparation for his 1 January 2020 transfer to the team.

Minamino was assigned the jersey No. 18, which was vacated by Alberto Moreno last in the summer of 2019 and has also been worn by the likes of Dirk Kuyt, John Arne Riise and Michael Owen for Liverpool.

International Career

In June 2011, Minamino was elected Japan U-17 national team for 2011 U-17 World Cup. He played 4 matches and scored a goal against New Zealand.

Minamino made his debut for Japan national team in a friendly against Iran on 13 October 2015, coming as a substitute in 83rd minute.

In August 2016, Minamino was elected Japan U-23 national team for 2016 Summer Olympics. He played all 3 matches and scored a goal against Nigeria.

In December 2018, Minamino was one of 23 Japanese selected in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. In January 2019, he made his Asian Cup debut against Turkmenistan, providing an assist. In the semi final, Minamino was Japan’s star as he assisted twice and won his team a penalty, which was converted by Yuya Osako. He scored his first ever Asian Cup goal in the final against Qatar, but ended up losing 3-1. Minamino made a total of 6 appearances in the tournament.

Career Statistics

Club

As of match played 16 December 2019

International

As of 14 November 2019.

International Goals

Scores and results list Japan’s goal tally first.

Honours

Red Bull Salzburg

  • Austrian Football Bundesliga: 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18, 2018–19
  • Austrian Cup: 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2018–19

Takumi Minamino

Source: Liverpool FC Website, 19th December 2019

Japan international Takumi Minamino will arrive at Liverpool on January 1, 2020 with a track record of winning silverware and producing clinical attacking football.

The Reds’ newest recruit, who completed a medical and sealed a long-term deal with the club at Melwood on Wednesday, is set to join the European champions after an agreement was reached with Red Bull Salzburg for his transfer.

Minamino has developed into one of the continent’s sought-after talents since moving to Austria from his homeland in 2015, catching the eye in a Salzburg team brimming with talent, as Liverpool witnessed first-hand in this season’s Champions League group stage.

Born on January 16, 1995, his football career started out at Cerezo Osaka, where he progressed from the youth ranks at the Japanese club to make 82 appearances in all competitions before Salzburg swooped to sign him days before his 20th birthday.

Minamino has helped Die Mozartstädter – a former club of current Reds Sadio Mane and Naby Keita – win the domestic championship every season since, as well as four cup triumphs.

Capable of playing anywhere across the front line and in a deeper midfield position, the nimble attacker consistently showcased his ability to pick open defences, whether through inventive dribbling, incisive passing or sheer pace.

He is a finisher, too, racking up 64 goals in all competitions for Salzburg, including a well-taken strike at Anfield in October when his new club defeated the Austrians 4-3 in a Champions League thriller.

That was one of nine he notched in the first half of 2019-20, setting him firmly on course to better his previous high of 14 in a single campaign (achieved in 2016-17 and 2018-19).

In addition to their near-total dominance of the Austrian division, Minamino has been an important figure in Salzburg’s growth on the European stage during recent seasons.

He contributed two goals when they reached the Europa League semi-finals in 2017-18 and added four more in the same competition last term.

And both the Japanese and Jesse Marsch’s team moved up another level as they entered the Champions League group stage in September, pushing European Cup holders Liverpool to a decider in Salzburg on the final matchday.

Minamino scored and provided an assist as they came from three goals down to get back on terms with the Reds at Anfield in a pulsating clash they ultimately lost narrowly and was on target again in their 4-1 victory at Genk.

He has also blossomed into a clutch player for his country, starting six of Japan’s seven games at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup – and netting in the final – as they finished runners-up, and bagging five goals in their 100 per cent start to 2022 World Cup qualifying.

And from the New Year, it will be Liverpool benefiting from the multi-functional, multi-threat Minamino, who Jürgen Klopp describes as ‘a proper team player’.

“My target is to win the Premier League and the Champions League,” says the new Reds No.18. “From the moment I’m given the chance to play I’m intending to make a contribution to this team.”