Liverpool closing in on Minamino

Takumi Minamino

The race for Red Bull Salzburg forward Takumi Minamino appears to be reaching a conclusion with Liverpool confirmed to be in talks to sign him in January.

The Reds have been long-term admirers of the Japan international but have stepped up their pursuit of the 24-year-old as interest from around Europe has been growing.

Minamino, who moved to Salzburg from Cerezo Osaka for less than a £1m in 2015, has been catching the attentions of Europe’s big guns after scoring nine goals and providing 11 assists in 22 appearances across all competitions this season.

Liverpool, who had been quiet on potential January plans, have been able to witness first hand the talents of Minamino as he starred for Salzburg in both legs against Liverpool in the Champions League this season, scoring in his side’s 4-3 defeat at Anfield in October.

Although he failed to find the net in the reverse fixture earlier this week in a 2-0 defeat that saw his side eliminated while confirming Liverpool’s progression as group winners, he provided a constant menace and the Anfield club have now opened talks.

What may also have been appealing to both Liverpool and other interested parties is that he has a release clause of just £7.25million, with Salzburg now confirming talks have begun.

RB Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund said: “I can confirm that there are currently discussions with Liverpool.

“It is an honour when these clubs are interested in our players.”

Given Liverpool’s fluid front three as it stands, Minamino’s versatility across the forward line is an added bonus and the Reds will be hoping that their move to wrap up the deal to sign him in the upcoming transfer window quickly will reap the rewards.

Following a UEFA rule change last year, Minamino would also still be eligible to play for Liverpool in the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League, despite already having featured for Salzburg in the competition.

Liverpool are not the only Premier League club linked with the player as Manchester United are also believed to be in the hunt, while the likes of Juventus, Roma, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig have all been credited with an interest.