‘Minamino was like a little shy deer’ – How Liverpool new boy has blossomed since ‘reserved’ start at Salzburg

Takumi Minamino has blossomed since his early days at Red Bull Salzburg, according to one of the club’s former coaches Peter Zeidler.

Minamino began his career in Japan with Cerezo Osaka, before signing a three-year contract with Salzburg in January 2015.

The 25-year-old helped the Austrian outfit win five league titles on the bounce, the last of which the team was able to build upon by successfully qualifying for the Champions League group stages.

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    Salzburg were drawn in Group E of this season’s competition, alongside defending champions Liverpool, Napoli and Genk.

    Jesse Marsch’s side exited the competition after only managing to record seven points out of a possible 18, but gave a good account of themselves, particularly during a 4-3 defeat at Anfield.

    Minamino found the net in that contest and generally impressed with his dynamism in the final third of the pitch, and ultimately convinced the Reds to launch a bid for his services.

    The Japan international joined Liverpool for £7.25 million on January 1, and has since appeared in four matches across all competitions for the club.

    Zeidler, who coached Minamino for one full season at Salzburg, has now offered an insight into the winger’s rise to prominence, insisting he wasn’t always the “confident” figure on the pitch he is now.

    “He was very, very reserved, like a little shy deer. He always gave the impression of ‘I don’t want to attract attention. Leave me alone!'” Zeidler told Goal and SPOX.

    “You immediately saw that he is extremely fast in all areas. In the head and in the legs, too. Small feints! Stop at high speed and then accelerate again! That was pretty impressive. I quickly noticed that he can make the difference.

    “He is an incredibly humble player for a manager. He is very disciplined and always wants to do everything exactly as it is explained to him. As a manager, you just have to be careful that you don’t say anything wrong.

    “There is an image that has been burned into me. I remember clearly how he was in tears in the dressing room after the Champions League qualification game we lost against Malmo in 2015. That was all too much for him. He couldn‘t cope properly with negative experiences back then.

    “He learned in Salzburg what is also required in Liverpool: what do you do when you lose the ball? How do you go ball hunting? Liverpool has brought in a player with the right football education.

    “Since our time together he has developed the most in terms of personality. He looks very confident now, appears very cheeky and never hides.”

    Minamino was left out of Jurgen Klopp’s squad for Liverpool’s 1-0 win at Norwich on Saturday, but will be back in contention for a spot when they travel to Wanda Metropolitano to take on Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

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