London (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says Japan forward Takumi Minamino is in contention to make his debut in Sunday’s FA Cup derby against Everton.
Minamino has arrived in a £7.25 million transfer from Red Bull Salzburg and had his first training session with his new Liverpool team-mates on Tuesday.
He is not eligible to feature in Liverpool’s Premier League match at home to Sheffield United on Thursday because of registration regulations.
But Klopp hinted Minamino is set to be involved when Everton make the short trip across Stanley Park to face the Premier League leaders in FA Cup third round action.
“This time we are not allowed but from the next moment on we are thinking about putting him in the squad,” Klopp said on Wednesday.
“In this period of the season especially, there will not be 15 weeks until we use him. Is he then the finished article in March? I don’t know.
“We signed the player, he was at Salzburg, so he doesn’t have to change in the moment, just be who you are and then we start working on that and I am looking forward to it.
“That’s what the little talk we had, we really signed Takumi Minamino from Salzburg, the guy who played against us like crazy. Just be that and everything will be fine.
“We have some of the best players in the world, but we didn’t bring him in to accept like ‘I am number five, six, seven or eight’.
“We start learning about each other from now on. He will have all the time he needs, but how much time he needs I have no idea.”
Minamino’s integration has been helped slightly by having two players in the dressing room who have also previously played for Salzburg in Sadio Mane and Naby Keita.
The Japanese international has been allocated a locker between that pair and, while Klopp sees the advantage of lining him up alongside those men, he believes the squad as a whole will make the process easy.
“He was here yesterday, we had a light session and he enjoyed it a lot,” said Klopp. “The boys were incredible with him. Sadio and Naby, with the Salzburg DNA, were really nice.
“If I would like to be a new player I’d like to be a new player in that group because they welcome you with open arms.
“Communication-wise it is really good. His English is absolutely OK but his German is really good. It doesn’t help the team too much but [it does] me.
“We can talk, we didn’t do it too much yesterday because it is important he settles.
“We will not start filling him now with information immediately, ‘You have to do this and that’, we want him to be as natural as possible.
“It would be nice if you and all the other people would give him a bit of time.”
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