Japanese star Minamino signs for Liverpool


London (AFP) – Japanese international Takumi Minamino signed for Champions League holders Liverpool on Thursday for a reported fee of £7.25 million ($9.5 million) from Austrian outfit Red Bull Salzburg, the Premier League leaders announced.

The 24-year-old forward — who impressed Liverpool in their two Champions League group matches this season with the Austrian side — is believed to have signed a four-and-a-half-year contract.

“Liverpool Football Club can confirm an agreement has been reached with Red Bull Salzburg for the transfer of Takumi Minamino,” the club said in a statement on their website.

Minamino — who scored in the 4-3 defeat by Liverpool at Anfield in October — said it fulfilled a dream.

“It has been a dream, my dream to become a Liverpool player,” he told Liverpool.com.

“And I’m so excited that the moment has come true.

“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.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said Minamino was a courageous player.

“He is very quick and a very brave player,” said Klopp.

“He is brave with the ball but also brave without the ball.”  

Liverpool — whose senior squad are preparing for Saturday’s Club World Cup final in Qatar — activated Minamino’s release clause last week.

He will be free to play for them from January 1 and could be involved in the FA Cup third round tie at home to city rivals Everton on January 5.

His move brings an end to his five-year spell with Salzburg, whom he joined from Cerezo Osaka in January 2015.

In total, Minamino made 199 appearances for Salzburg, scoring 64 goals, while he has earned 22 caps for Japan and scored 11 times since making his debut in October 2015.

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