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    Minamino admits to surprise at Liverpool exit and offers hint at future plans

    The Japan international was allowed to leave Anfield for a loan spell at Premier League rivals Southampton during the winter transfer window

    Takumi Minamino has aired his surprise at being allowed to leave Liverpool during the winter transfer window and offered a hint towards his future plans after being loaned out to Southampton.

    The Japan international was facing fierce competition for places at Anfield when the decision was taken to let him see out the 2020-21 campaign with the Saints at St Mary’s.

    A move elsewhere offered obvious benefits to all concerned, but it appeared at one stage as though the 25-year-old forward would be prevented from spreading his wings outside of Merseyside.

    What has been said?

    Minamino has told Southampton’s official website on his move came about: “It was the last day [of the transfer window], after training – around five o’clock, I think. Some guys called me, and it just happened.

    “I didn’t expect it at all, so I was probably the most surprised of anyone when I got the call.

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    “It was a good feeling. For me it was a good opportunity, and I was getting a positive feeling. I wanted to take this chance, and I came here.”

    How has Minamino fared in 2020-21?

    Having been snapped up by Liverpool in January 2020, Minamino opened his goal account for the Reds early on in the current campaign.

    He was, however, competing with the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota for regular game time.

    An opportunity to head elsewhere was expected to present itself in January, with Southampton eventually putting a short-term deal in place.

    The 26-year-old has taken in six appearances for the Saints, scoring two goals.

    What does the future hold?

    Minamino is tied to a contract at Liverpool through to the summer of 2024.

    Further opportunities could come his way when returning to Anfield, but the Japan international admits that he is eager to see as many minutes as possible at this stage of his career.

    He has added: “For a football player, playing is the most important thing.

    “Playing more is helping me to get more confidence back as a player. I want to play more; the more I am helping the team and contributing to wins, the more my confidence will grow.

    “Playing in the Premier League has been a dream for me since I was a child. I am really enjoying getting the chance to play in the Premier League.

    “I only have a few months left to help the team but I want to work hard and use my full abilities to make sure the team do well and climb up the league as much as possible.

    “I just want to help the team by scoring and assisting as much as possible. I am an attacking player so it is my responsibility to score and assist to help the team. That is where I am focused.”

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