Football Digest: Liverpool start the season strong
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has a new star in his midfield after Wataru Endo shone for Japan in their shock thrashing of Germany on Saturday. Japan stunned the Germans with a 4-1 trouncing in Wolfsburg, their biggest defeat since England beat them 5-1 in 2001.
And Liverpool star Endo played a huge role in Japan’s historic triumph. The former Stuttgart man was the least glamorous of Klopp’s midfield signings this summer – but might now have an important role to play.
Fabinho-esque in his tenacity and ability to stop attacks, Endo played in a deep midfield role. His performance allowed the forward-thinking midfielders – such as Daichi Kamada and Junya Ito – to thrive.
An all-action performance made Endo stand out at the Volkswagen Arena. The 30-year-old won the most tackles (four) and the most duels (seven) but was also the most fouled (three) player on the pitch.
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Two interceptions and six recoveries prevented Germany from breaking past the Japan midfield. Those qualities will come in handy during the biggest games of Liverpool’s season.
It is the kind of performance that made Fabinho such a huge success on Merseyside. The experienced Wataru can hope to have a similar impact before his shock move to Al-Ittihad this summer.
Liverpool paid just £16million to lure Endo from Stuttgart, for whom he signed in 2020. He had previously enjoyed a nomadic career in Belgium and Japan. A late bloomer, when Liverpool lifted the Champions League in 2019, Endo’s Sint Truiden had just finished 7th in the 16-team Belgian top tier.
It was Klopp who identified Endo as a potentially cheap replacement for Fabinho. And the German – who was at Mainz this weekend to watch his former club’s friendly against Duisburg – will receive extremely positive feedback about his international display.
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Endo might not have been Liverpool’s most attractive signing of the summer. Nearly £70m was spent on Dominik Szoboszlai, while £35m was spent on Alexis Mac Allister. The latter was deployed in a deeper role before Endo’s arrival.
The Japan international has renewed competition from deadline day signing Ryan Gravenberch. The former Ajax star has been signed from Bayern Munich in a £34m deal but is yet to make his debut.
But it could be Endo who gets selected in the holding-midfield role for Liverpool’s biggest games. His performance against Germany should be evidence to Klopp that he can help the head coach revive the Reds’ Premier League hopes.
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