Jurgen Klopp quietly reveals who Endo will replace at Liverpool

It has been confirmed Wataru Endo will become Liverpool’s third signing of the summer and could fill a vital role in the squad

It is obvious that this summer has been one of serious upheaval at Anfield.

After originally saying bidding farewell to Roberto Firmino, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner and Naby Keita at the end of May on their own terms, the same cannot be said about the Saudi Arabia purge that resulted in Liverpool’s shock departures of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho just weeks later.

As a result, Jurgen Klopp began the new Premier League season at Stamford Bridge with a squad that lacked Moises Caicedo or Romeo Lavia and was instead forced to deploy summer signing Alexis Mac Allister in a deeper-lying midfield role.

Yet despite a bright start against the Londoners, the Reds failed to persist with their high press and quickly found themselves at the mercy of Mauricio Pochettino’s side shortly after Axel Disasi had cancelled out Luis Diaz’s opener.

Now, though, ahead of this weekend’s Anfield return against AFC Bournemouth, they have moved swiftly to progress with a deal for VfB Stuttgart and Japan midfielder Wataru Endo.

The 30-year-old defensive midfielder will cost Liverpool in the region of £16m, with the Bundesliga side having granted Endo permission to speak to Liverpool over a proposed move to Anfield.

After failed pursuits of Caicedo and Lavia earlier this month, coupled with interim sporting director Jorg Schmadtke’s close ties back in his homeland, the news of Endo’s arrival was initially met with an understandable amount of scepticism.

But a more in-depth dive into the background of the veteran midfielder should familiarise Kopties with precisely what they will be welcoming to Anfield.

Clearly, after a summer of surprises, Liverpool are looking at ways to replace the wealth of knowledge they have been deprived of following the summer exits of Henderson, Milner and Fabinho. Between them, the trio tallied over 5,600 minutes of Premier League action last season.

And even though Henderson and Fabinho found themselves as two of Liverpool’s first-choice midfielders during their final campaign as Reds, Milner was restricted to just seven starts in the Premier League.

As a result of being the elder statesman of the dressing room, the 37-year-old was summoned from the bench on 24 occasions last campaign, with 17 of those coming after the 70th minute.

Even in command of an unassuming, bit-part role, Klopp was keen to offer Milner another one-year extension at the club in the hope of taking his Anfield career into its eighth season.

But after the 37-year-old rejected the offer to sign for Brighton & Hove Albion in June, the Reds boss quickly revealed his eagerness to fill the void left by his former No.7.

“How we finished games, it was always James Milner came on, stuff like that, and finished the game pretty much for us in a super-professional way,” said Klopp, during last month’s pre-season tour of Singapore.

“In the end – the last few weeks and months – maybe he finished more of the games off. We have players for that role, younger players, and it just opens doors and that’s what we need. Yes, we as a group want to put things right.”

And on review of Endo’s resume, Liverpool might have found their man.

The strip sees Liverpool wear purple for the first time since the 2018/19 season. Following on from the iconic Red and remake of a 1996/96 classic, the third kit features a purple ripple pattern with black sleeve cuffs, collarbone inserts, side panelling with matching shorts and purple rippple socks.

At 30, his arrival should act as a bridge between Liverpool’s young and old stars, in a similar way to what Milner’s arrival at Anfield in 2015 did. It comes at a time when the Reds have made a significant effort to lower the average age of their midfield ranks with the summer arrivals of Mac Allister and Dominik Szboszlai.

Such a decision came after much was made of the age profiles within Liverpool’s engine room last season. On a regular basis when dissecting defeats, it became apparent that Fabinho was the only midfielder in his 20s to make 10 or more appearances for the club in the Premier League.

Ranking either side of the Brazilian, was Harvey Elliott, who made 32 appearances. Meanwhile, Henderson and Milner ranked ahead of Thiago Alcantara for league outings of those aged 30 and above. In contrast, Stuttgart’s versatile Japanese star has featured in 99 out of a possible 102 Bundesliga games since August 2020.

And having featured in two World Cups for the Samurai Blues, the Stuttgart midfielder clearly has an abundance of experience that will prove to be vital this term as the likes of Stefan Bajcetic, Szoboszlai and Mac Allister all look to settle in during their first full seasons at Anfield.

Critically important when joining a midfield that spent much of last season lumbering between assignments is that despite being a year older than Fabinho, Endo has played roughly 5,800 minutes less than the Brazilian at club level. Those minutes have come across over 380 appearances in a career that started in his homeland.

Equally as impressive is the clean bill of health that the midfield is expected to bring to Merseyside after missing just two league games in the Bundesliga due to injury since moving to the MHPArena on an initial loan deal in 2019. One of which was due to the Coronavirus, while the other was as a result of a concussion.

Of course, he may not be the long-term Caicedo, Lavia or even Aurelien Tchouameni alternative Liverpool had in mind when they began their search for Fabinho’s heir last summer, but Endo will certainly have a significant role to play at Anfield this campaign and beyond. Klopp may have just found his new Milner.




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