Ralph Hasenhuttl insists he has been impressed by Takumi Minamino since his move to Southampton on loan from Liverpool.
The Japanese international made the move to the south coast on deadline day in February after struggling to establish himself at Anfield following a £7.25m move from RB Salzburg in 2020.
But Minamino has experienced more inconsistency during his time with the Saints, scoring twice in his first two appearances for the club before a loss of form.
But asked why Minamino's move hadn't quite worked out after another difficult afternoon against Fulham, Hasenhuttl gave a somewhat surprising answer, instead saying he was happy with what he's seen from the Liverpool attacker.
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"I must say, I was not unhappy with him," he said. "The first half, he was good. The second half, you could see that it was his second game in four or five days.
"He hasn't played so much in the past so it is normal that you then have a few moments where you struggle. He worked hard against the ball.
He added: "I like this player. He has some very good movements and is enjoying his work, I think, also."
Liverpool are planning for Minamino's return to Anfield this summer before deciding on his next move.
Southampton had pushed to make the loan move a permanent one at the end of the season but that was rejected by the Reds.