Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is likely to throw new signing Takumi Minamino into the fray in Sunday’s FA Cup Merseyside derby at home to Everton but has stressed the Japan international needs time to adapt.
The £7.25million arrival from Red Bull Salzburg had his first training session with his new team-mates on Tuesday and is not eligible for Thursday’s Premier League match at home to Sheffield United because of registration regulations.
However, it seems likely he will be in contention for Sunday.
“This time we are not allowed but from the next moment on we are thinking about putting him in the squad,” said Klopp.
“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 – Sadio Mane and Naby Keita.
The Japanese 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.”
At this stage Minamino looks like being the only arrival for the runaway Premier League leaders in January.
“I think every year we have the same situation when I get asked ‘Would you sign a centre-half?’ Yes. Then in two weeks ‘No’,” said Klopp, who is down to just two fit senior central defenders in Joe Gomez and Virgil Van Dijk, with Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren not expected to return until later in the month.
“It is always tricky. We will probably not be too busy in the transfer window. We will see but it is unlikely.”