After Liverpool confirmed their January signing of Takumi Minamino, the Japanese international who will arrive for a meagre £7.25million on January 1, Red Bull Salzburg’s official Twitter sent out a rather wonderful, tongue-in-cheek tweet.

With Minamino becoming the third he was there, alongside two other Salzburg alumni who have become stars at Anfield.

First, Sadio Mane, the Senegalese forward who took a share of the golden boot in the Premier League last term and was a key component of the Reds’ Champions League success; he joined Liverpool, via Southampton, in 2016.

Second in the order was Naby Keita, who followed in 2018, this time going via RB Leipzig in Germany at a cost of £52million.

Now comes Minamino, with Salzburg’s tweet pondering who next, two outlines left blank with dates of 2022 and 2024 underneath.

The message atop, alongside the ‘Made in Salzburg’ hashtag, is simple: “Who’s next?”

Salzburg stars who have moved to Anfield

"This is the story here and not always so easy,” the club’s sporting director Christoph Freund told Mirror Football.

"We want, not want, but we sell the players to give them the opportunity to make the next step to a bigger club and for sure we are very proud.

"Everybody knows in our scouting department which players we are searching for - 16, 17, 18, 19, maximum 20 years old.

"And also which player we want to find: We need speed, intelligence, good mentality, good character, fast in the head.”

Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund

For Freund, losing Minamino, Mane, Keita and numerous other emerging talents to elsewhere, is both a sign of where Salzburg are in elite football's pecking order, but also a show that they are doing things the right way when it comes to talent identification and team building.

There are few clubs anywhere who scout players as well as Salzburg, picking up rough diamonds and sculpting them, initially for their own first team, but also bigger things elsewhere.

Now, that's at senior level. What about youth football, and appealing to teenagers and their parents?

As Salzburg's rise has continued - in many ways negating the need for players exiting the first-team to take a 'stepping stone' before joining a member of Europe's elite - the need to bring through young talent at youth level has increased.

And that's where the club's relationship with Red Bull - whom they are sponsored, not owned by - really comes into its own.

A look at the Red Bull Academy

In the shadow of the Eastern Alps stands the Red Bull Academy, the purpose built arena that was opened in 2014, encompassing almost 100 square metres, housing 400 football and ice hockey stars of the future.

The facility, which took 21 months to build, features six outside pitches (four natural turf, two artificial) as well as its own Neymar-branded five-a-side zone and a giant indoor football hall, where the interior walls are adorned with eye-catching motivational sayings such as 'Talent gets you to the start. Attitude to the finish' and 'Meet your toughest opponent - yourself'

The indoor football field at the Red Bull Academy

There are also two ice rinks, one 'shooting area' and two skate mills.

Once home to the likes of Austria international Hannes Wolf and Mali international Amadou Haidara - who left Salzburg to join RB Leipzig in January -  the crisp layout, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows prevalent, features 92 double rooms, 25 locker rooms and can house as many as 400 players in total - 200 for football and 200 for ice hockey.

That's not to mention a state of the art gym, built only in 2018, featuring a 60 metre running track, space for gymnastics, and all kinds of equipment imaginable, all of which are inter-connected to the facilities' computer system - with training data stored on the cloud, capable of being analysed both in-house and remotely - nor the 360-degree 'Soccerbot'.

One of the most innovative football training devices on the planet, it is capable of digitally recreating in-match situations to provide analysis, as well as testing players' spacial awareness and technical speed. It allows Red Bull to objectively measure the cognitive abilities of their players.

The Soccerbot 360
Inside the Soccerbot 360

Throughout the venue, there are 120 staff, including 20 full-time football coaches, led by academy sporting director Frank Kramer, who is in charge of all things football and admits, the need for youngsters to be 'complete' is increasingly vital in the modern day.

“They have to be complete. That is the difference to the old days,” he says. “Ten years ago it was enough to have one weapon – like speed, skills, or strategy.

"Now you have to have a weapon, and you have to be quite complete as well. If you lack speed, you won’t arrive here. That’s clear. The gap between quality is so close now."

Youngsters work out in the gym at the Academy

Kramer recruits from within Austria players from the age of 14, offering places in the dorm, with offers made to the continents best from the age of 16. The German runs a tight ship, with discipline paramount: players must not wear hats or use mobile phones in the canteen, while internet access is switched off in the dorms after 10pm.

Players are not given TVs for their rooms, but elder players can purchase their own - provided it is less than 40 inches.

However, as Kramer is clear, there is an awareness among the youngsters and staff that it is a place of business - and where pressure will always be on.

“Football is quite special. It’s not like I tell you how Microsoft works and we teach you the business. It’s different. It’s about human beings.

In business, if the day is not that good, you do it the day after. Not in football. If you do not perform, it’s [a chance for] somebody else."

The likes of Wolf, Mane, Keita and now Minamino are helping the Academy to attract talent. Their rise has not gone unnoticed among parents and youngsters, making it an easier sell for Kramer.

"There's more attention. You always work with symbols, with role models. The more role models you have, the easier it is for the kids to identify with everything here. It's easier. You have a role model and you want to be the same."

'The Academy of the Next Generation' reads the sign upon the entrance. It's still early days, but that may well be prophetic.