Liverpool’s Takumi Minamino completed a sensational loan transfer to Southampton amid the dying embers of the January transfer deadline.
The Japan international has agreed to spend the remainder of the season on the South Coast as he sets out in search of more playing time, having struggled to fit into Jürgen Klopp’s plans this season.
The transfer window appeared to be ending silently, before news of the 26-year-old’s Saints pursuit ended with less than two hours to seal the deal.
After passing a last minute medical examination, the 11th hour loan transfer was confirmed in a statement on the Southampton website. Boss Ralph Hasenhuttl said: “I am very happy to welcome Takumi to our team for the remainder of the season.
“He will help provide another good offensive option, and above all, he is the right player profile for us. It will give us some extra depth in our squad at an important time, and I can’t wait to start working with him on the training ground.
Minamino – who only joined Liverpool from RB Salzburg a year ago – has featured 17 times in all competitions this season, but struggled for starts behind the established top three of Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.
However, he’s still managed four goals and two assists, and his versatility means he’ll give the Saints a wide and offensive option in midfield. A lack of quality depth would have been a real concern for Hasenhuttl as his side tried to mount a European challenge in the second half of the season.
The move also allowed Southampton to send Shane Long on loan to championship promotion hopefuls Bournemouth. The Irishman has never been a regular goalscorer at St Mary’s but his hard work and willingness to lead the chains has kept him in favor over the past few seasons.
Minamino is Southampton’s only arrival from the January window, while young defender Yan Valery was the second player to leave the club on deadline day. He joined Birmingham City on loan, after being excluded from the first team photo by Kyle Walker-Peters.