Jurgen Klopp believes Takumi Minamino’s Premier League debut was ‘exceptional’ and revealed the attacking midfielder was playing with a calf injury during Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Wolves.
Minamino, signed from Red Bull Salzburg, came off the bench earlier than expected when Sadio Mane – suffering with a hamstring issue – hobbled off after just 33 minutes and put in a solid display.
A late winner from Roberto Firmino secured all three points for the travelling Reds at Molineux, with Jordan Henderson and Wolves striker Raul Jimenez also getting on the scoresheet, to keep Liverpool 16 points clear of title rivals Manchester City with a game in hand.
It will be Firmino grabbing the headlines but Klopp reserved special praise for Minamino, who needed treatment on a calf problem at half-time.
‘Super,’ said Klopp of his debut. ‘We had the situation that Sadio goes off, we played tonight slightly different to usually.
‘We had to defend in a 4-4-2 then played offensive in our normal system. If now Div [Origi] is coming on, who would deserve it, 100 per cent, because he is in incredible shape, it’s really very offensive very early in the game.
‘Taki had now two or three weeks training with us, played different positions in training at least, played centrally in the FA Cup game, now played right and left wing.
‘He can play that, we need him, but he is not a winger in this understanding, he’s a player for between the lines so Oxlade had then to be a bit higher so that we had still offers in behind, so we can still stretch the formation.
‘So it was really difficult for Taki, he felt immediately the calf, at half-time he needed treatment – we hope it’s nothing and he could go through so it should be fine.
‘That was, for the first Premier League game, exceptionally well and he is completely integrated in the team and that’s really good.’