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Takumi Minamino is a vindication of Liverpool’s transfer strategy

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There is much uncertainty over the future of Takumi Minamino. The latest indications are that the Japanese international will at least be afforded the chance to link up with his teammates in pre-season, but rumours continue to swirl regarding interest from Southampton. Michael Edwards and the recruitment team will no doubt be watching this all unfurl with complete serenity: the manner in which Minamino was signed from Red Bull Salzburg now puts Liverpool in a win/win situation.

Minamino moved to Merseyside for just £7.25 million, with the club taking advantage of a release clause in his contract. Eventually recouping this investment was almost guaranteed, regardless of performances on the pitch. Simply by virtue of becoming a Liverpool player, Minamino’s stock rose in the footballing world. Any future suitors will be encouraged by the seal of approval from such a big club — even though the signing has been far from a roaring success so far, it is almost inconceivable that Liverpool will not make some kind of profit if they opt to cash in.



Whether Jürgen Klopp actually chooses to call it a day with Minamino is another matter. The manager will have to be even more careful than usual next season when it comes to dealing with burnout: his key players, who were already being asked to play in an extremely intense system, have been put through an extraordinary accumulation of minutes in this pandemic-affected campaign. Squad players could yet come to the fore. Regardless of whether Minamino himself stays or goes, Edwards should be on the lookout for similar bargains to bolster the ranks.



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Release clauses are not always public knowledge, but there are at least a few names which may interest Liverpool. Top of that list is Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini. Reports out of Italy have actually linked him to Anfield in recent days, and the Italian could be acquired for as little as €30 million (£25.8 million) thanks to a clause in his contract. Not in the same bargain sphere as Minamino, this would nonetheless represent excellent value for one of the foremost central midfielders in Serie A.



Within his position, Pellegrini is in the 92nd percentile for expected assists among the top 5 European leagues, suggesting he could add some extra creativity into a primarily functional Liverpool midfield. Klopp will be equally encouraged by an impressive 19.04 pressures per 90 minutes, placing the Roma man among the top 20% of midfielders in this regard. With Georginio Wijnaldum departing, Pellegrini could be a great pick-up via his release clause.

Elsewhere, Fulham’s Tosin Adarabioyo reportedly has a clause allowing him to leave for £10 million as a result of relegation to the Championship. The 23-year-old played 33 times for the Cottagers last season, looking reasonably assured in a struggling team. The youngster comes with Manchester City youth pedigree; while the signing would only really make sense as a backup option if one of Nat Phillips or Rhys Williams were to depart, it’s similar to the Minamino situation in that future profit would be likely.

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Of course, Liverpool have already made use of a release clause to strengthen at centre-back this window. Ibrahima Konaté’s £36 million price tag is on the hefty end, but the key point is that the club pounced on a disparity between the clause and the player’s actual perceived value to secure a signing that makes both footballing and financial sense.

In a market where buyers are often forced to grit their teeth and pay more than a player’s true worth, release clauses are a clever way of getting ahead of the game. Liverpool did so with Minamino and Konaté, and should be keeping a close eye on future opportunities.


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