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It seems Jurgen Klopp could be prepared to go back on his promise to Takumi Minamino after Liverpool held transfer talks with Southampton regarding the forward's future.
The Reds looked to have bagged a real bargain in the transfer market when they swooped to land the Japanese star for the modest sum of £7.7million in January last year.
Minamino had already endeared himself to the Liverpool fans after two impressive performances against them for Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League.
Klopp hailed his new arrival as a "wonderful signing" at the time, while Minamino admitted it was his "dream" to become a Liverpool player.
Sadly for the 26-year-old, his experience so far has not been as he might have hoped.
Takumi Minamino faces an uncertain future at Liverpool following his Southampton loan
He struggled to get to grips with English football initially, with his performance against League One Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup a particular concern.
To date he has still made only 10 starts in a Liverpool shirt, which prompted Klopp to insist Minamino still had a big role to play at the club moving forward.
"It’s hard to get in this team – that’s how it is," the Liverpool boss said in November. "Taki is a sensational boy and a great player, so he will face that challenge. His time will come, no doubt."
That time looked like it might come soon after, when Minamino started and scored in Liverpool's 7-0 drubbing of Crystal Palace, which left them top of the Premier League table at Christmas.
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Roberto Firmino's indifferent form had many feeling Minamino should be given a chance in Liverpool's front three, but a disappointing display on his next outing – against what was effectively Aston Villa's youth team – persuaded Klopp to ship him out on loan to St. Mary's.
The temporary stint was, at the time, billed as a chance for him to get minutes under his belt and some top-flight experience to bring back to Liverpool in the summer.
Days after letting him go, Klopp conceded he "didn't give Minamino enough chances", and said: "The only thing lacking was a couple of games in a row, that was difficult here and I would have loved to keep him to have the option.
“But Takumi is a long-term project, always was. We see a lot of potential in Takumi and it makes absolute sense for him to play maybe 17 games in the Premier League [at Southampton].
“And then he comes back in a different mindset, confidence level all these kind of things so I hope it is a win-win situation."
Jurgen Klopp was adamant Minamino would play more but transfer talks have since been held
(Image: Getty Images)
It certainly looked that way from the outset, as Minamino fired in a cracker on his Saints debut against Newcastle, before a superbly executed goal in the draw with Chelsea.
Two goals in his first three games offered promise, though he failed to score in his seven other appearances having missed a significant chunk of games in between through injury.
However, Southampton were still pleased with his contribution, while Klopp had also taken note as he again insisted last month that the player had a part to play on Merseyside.
“He’s done really well [at Southampton] and this is no surprise," Klopp said. “When we allowed him to go in January, it was a tough call to make because he is an important player for us and will be again in the future, no doubt."
Minamino has been in free-scoring form for Japan but may be sold by Liverpool in the coming months
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
But that stance appears to have changed in the interim, as Ralph Hasenhuttl revealed Southampton have held fresh discussions with Liverpool over keeping Minamino at the club.
"It is never nice for a player when you don't end up getting the game time that you want to have, when you only train and are not see as part of the first 11," Hasenhuttl told HampshireLive.
"The most important thing for him is that he gets a chance to play.
"We have had talks with them and they are not so sure what will happen with him because Liverpool may make some things happen in the transfer market.
"For him, it was important to play here. We gave him that chance to play and we have enjoyed having him here."
Minamino is now currently on international duty with Japan, where he again showed his scoring prowess, equalling a record set by Keisuke Honda of scoring in seven straight World Cup qualifying matches with his latest strike against Tajikistan.
Still, his future in England remains unclear.
Liverpool have limited finances to rebuild this summer and offloading fringe stars is one way for Klopp to claw back some cash.
With the likes of Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri proving hard to shift in recent windows, Liverpool do have the fallback option of allowing Minamino to move on.
They would almost certainly make a profit on him if they were to do so, and it is unlikely he will be returning to the club as a starter after the summer break.
Klopp has a decision to make, as Minamino is a decent back-up option, and Liverpool will temporarily lose both Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah to the African Cup of Nations mid-season, though they could still invest in their attack this summer.
And having already been in talks over a transfer, it seems Klopp is not as certain on Minamino as he previously made out.
Should Minamino be given a chance at Liverpool or sold this summer? Have your say below.