Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has hinted that a permanent move for Takumi Minamino may be on the cards this summer.
Minamino joined Saints on-loan from Liverpool back in January and made a big initial impact by netting two goals in his first the starts. Rotation and the form of other players kept the Japanese international out of the side for many of the remaining fixtures, but the effect he had on the team seemed to impress his boss.
Speaking to Hampshire Live, Hasenhuttl said:
"“He not only scored fantastic goals but his mentality and his character really fit into our team. You can see why a club like Liverpool wanted to sign him. He did a good job here. We gave him a chance to show up. We will have a look what happens in the summer, we will see what Liverpool want to do. There are discussions going on but we will have a look in the summer.”"
Minamino should be a good long-term fit for Southampton
When it was announced that Saints had landed Minamino on a loan deal until the end of the 2020/21 season, it was clear to see why he was seen as as a good fit for the club.
Playing a high-intensity style of football at Liverpool helped, but his lack of game time had led to him being available for a temporary move. It was his previous experience outside of England that made him a Hasenhuttl type of player.
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Red Bull Salzburg were his first European club and things could not have gone much better there. 64 goals and 44 assists from 199 games saw him eventually become a leading player for Japan too, whilst much of his success can be put down to his personal style fitting into the Red Bull way.
Red Bull clubs all play in a very similar way and share footballing principles. Minamino learnt how to play his position very effectively under Jesse Marsch in a 4-2-2-2 system and would mostly take up one of the number 10 roles – exactly the same system that Ralph Hasenhuttl is trying to implement at Saints.
It was under the stewardship of Ralf Rangnick at Red Bull Leipzig that Hasenhuttl developed his own style whilst Minamino was working in the same ways at sister club RB Salzburg, and this was almost certainly part of the decision made to bring Minamino to Saints last January.
The two goals that Minamino netted in his early performances showed ruthless efficiency and skill in crucial moments. He will need to do this more often and, indeed, be given more chances to show what he can do, but there is no reason why he cannot be a long-term hit with Saints if they try to strike a permanent deal.