Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp rejects comparisons between impact of Takumi Minamino and Erling Haaland

Melissa Reddy
Reuters

Jurgen Klopp set aside Takumi Minamino and Erling Haaland's differing situations at Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund to argue both players picked perfect destinations for career advancement.

The duo departed Red Bull Salzburg in the winter window, with the Japan international having to be patient at Anfield while the 19-year-old sets new Bundesliga records and stars in the Champions League.

Minamino has been afforded just four appearances for Liverpool, two of those starts which came in the FA Cup, while Haaland has 11 goals in 450 minutes of football for BVB.

He won the Bundesliga Player of the Month award for January, despite playing less than an hour of football in the selection period.

Haaland has netted more than any other player across Europe’s top-five leagues in all competitions since his Dortmund debut.

But as Klopp pointed out, the teenager moved to Westfalenstadion as a necessity for BVB, while Minamino joined a winning machine with an already formidable attack.

Liverpool’s manager also underscored that while Manchester United are given grief for not signing Haaland with every passing game, they stood no chance against Dortmund who offered an open pathway to regular starts at the highest level.

“The difference couldn’t be bigger,” he said. “Erling Haaland made a perfect choice with Dortmund, and Taki made a perfect choice too.

“Dortmund needed a striker. Everybody blames Man United for not getting him, but we wouldn’t have got him - not that we tried. It’s as easy as that. He wanted a top team, as soon as possible, with an open space - Borussia Dortmund.

Takumi Minamino has found chances limited since joining Liverpool (Reuters)

“That’s timing. I hope you know how much I love and respect the people at Dortmund, but it’s not that they made a perfect approach and did this and that, it was more they were there, had the space, number nine… ‘Here we go, you are 19 years old, want to play Champions League, top end of Bundesliga, so go for it’.

“Nobody else had a chance, I’m pretty sure, no matter what they say.”

Minamino, by contrast, has to compete with Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi for an attacking slot - all of whom are more in tune with Klopp’s tactical demands.

The 25-year-old is still learning to strike the balance between fitting into Liverpool’s stylistic approach without sacrificing his natural game.

“Taki finds here a completely different situation. That’s normal,” the German said. “We have no problems, particularly in an offensive position, but we need variation at moments.

Erling Haaland has had a seismic impact at Borussia Dortmund (EPA)

“Taki tries everything. Against the ball he is top class, but if you ask him, although he doesn’t say it, he wants to do what we want him to do. But we want him to do what he does naturally.

“That’s the time we need, and you lose a little bit of quality in that period until you fight back.”

Klopp, who eased Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Robertson into the starting XI in recent seasons, revealed Minamino has been informed of how others that needed to initially be patient are core to the Premier League leaders.

“He knows how I see it, how I think about it, about the people who have had the same problems before,” he said.

“He is fine, is training really hard, but it’s a situation you can’t compare to Haaland.”