Liverpool set to beat Man Utd to Minamino deal

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Champions League winners Liverpool are closing in on a January move for Japan and RB Salzburg forward Takumi Minamino.

The Reds are preparing to outsmart Manchester United and a number of Premier League, Bundesliga and Serie A clubs by triggering the Japan international’s £7.25m release clause next month.

The Japan attacking-midfielder impressed against Liverpool in their two Champions League group games this season. He scored at Anfield last month and impressed despite Salzburg’s 2-0 defeat to Liverpool last Tuesday. After the match, Jürgen Klopp became an admirer of Minamino and informed the club hierarchy of his intention of signing the Japanese.

Confirming Liverpool’s interest in Minamino, Salzburg sporting director Christophe Freund said on Thursday that the Austrian club is discussing with Liverpool to sign the player in January. He added that it is an honour that big clubs are interested in their players.

He said: “I can confirm that there are currently discussions with Liverpool. It is an honour which clubs are interested in our players.”

Minamino has been one of the stars of an exciting Salzburg team that has lit up the Champions League group stage this season, playing alongside the equally impressive forwards Hwang-Hee Chan and Erling Braut Haaland.

The 24-year-old has scored 63 goals in 192 appearances for the Austrian champions since arriving from Japanese side Cerezo Osaka for less than £1m in 2014. Minamino has also scored seven more in league and cup in Austria this season, taking his tally to nine in all competitions so far. He has also been prolific at the international level, netting 11 times in just 22 games for Japan following a 2015 debut against Iran.

According to transfer experts, Minamino is arguably worth around £20m, perhaps even more than that in the current market. If Liverpool sign him, Minamino would be eligible to play for the Champions League holders in the knockout phase after UEFA scrapped a rule saying no player can appear for two different teams in the competition in the same season.

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