Takumi Minamino has completed a temporary move away from Liverpool by joining Southampton on loan for the remainder of the season.
All the talk around Anfield on deadline day circled by possible defensive arrivals.
The need for defensive recruits was intensified following the confirmation that Joel Matip would not play again this season – with the Cameroon centre-back joining Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk on the long-term absentee list.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp secured his defensive targets by signing Ben Davies from Preston on a permanent deal and bringing in Ozan Kabak on loan from Schalke with the possible alternative of a permanent move in the summer.
However, news came out on Monday evening of an approach from Southampton for Minamino.
The 11 pm UK deadline arrived and went without the announcement of a deal, but it was confirmed that Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl had landed the Japanese forward on loan until the end of the season.
Hasenhüttl said: “I am very pleased to welcome Takumi to our squad for the rest of this season.
“He will help deliver another good attacking option and is vital the right profile of player for us.
“This will give us some extra depth in our squad at an important time, and I am looking forward to start working with him on the training pitch.”
The move will hand Minamino the opportunity to press for a regular playing time at St Mary’s, something that has evaded him at Anfield since joining Liverpool from Red Bull Salzburg in January of last year.
Provided that Liverpool’s attack was outstanding last term during their title-winning drive, minutes were understandably hard to come by after joining midway through the season.
He scored against Arsenal in the Community Shield in August, but it took until December 19 to net his first Premier League goal – in the 7-0 rout of Crystal Palace.
After the game, Minamino related his relief at smashing his duck in the Premier League.
“A goal in the Premier League was what I wanted to accomplish,” he said. “Rather than feeling happy about it, I think it took longer than I wished. But I am happy that I could partake to the team’s victory.
“I wouldn’t say that I was dissatisfied with myself [for not scoring in the Premier League previously], but I always wanted to score as soon as possible. I also felt some pressure about it.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) February 2, 2021
“I am happy that I finally scored, but I have only scored once, so I will work hard to score more.”
Since that game, he has made only two additional appearances – 61 minutes against Aston Villa in the FA Cup and six minutes in the home defeat to Burnley on January 21.
His next appearance will almost certainly be in a Saints shirt, and he will strive to make his mark in the second half of the season.