Takumi Minamino hasn't enjoyed the best of starts since making the leap from Austria to England; he hasn't yet been permitted to showcase the reasons why Liverpool moved to sign him in January 2020.
Upon his arrival on Merseyside, just two months passed before European football was placed on pause as a result of a global pandemic which is still ongoing over a year later.
For months, Minamino was forced to spend time in a new country without the freedom to play football and get to know his new teammates on a personal level, with all his socialising having to happen through the detached digital platform of Zoom.
Shortly after football restarted, the Reds secured the Premier League title but as a consequence of the schedule disruption which had happened in the months prior, Minamino alongside every other player was denied the luxury of a pre-season.
Nevertheless, he was set to experience his first full campaign as a Liverpool player this year but just five games in, Virgil van Dijk suffered from a season-ending injury followed by Joe Gomez and Joel Matip some time later.
Jurgen Klopp had lost much of his team's spine and physical edge, with central midfielders having to adapt to play in defence out of necessity, and that impacted Minamino's usage.
Although the Japanese international has definite perks attached to his game, his physical qualities aren't quite as developed as those of his teammates, with the 26 year-old standing just 5-foot-9 and being slight in frame.
Klopp has previously referenced the need for Liverpool to retain a certain degree of physicality and height in the team without the presence of his usual central defenders, with set-pieces considered as a particular area of concern.
Minamino's lack of involvement and subsequent loan move to Southampton was a somewhat unforeseen by-product of the injury crisis which hit the club over the Christmas period, but the positive is that things will change soon.
Next season, the former Red Bull Salzburg attacker will endure a full pre-season for the first time at his new club, and the central defensive issues should return back to normal, with Van Dijk once again taking to the field on a regular basis alongside Gomez, Matip and whoever the club choose to pursue in the summer.
Physicality across the team is likely to be restored once certain players return from injury, and Minamino could be presented with a fresh start as Klopp looks to take back the Premier League crown that he's set to lose in the coming weeks.
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The German could explore the possibility of switching up his go-to formation from 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1 or another variation, with Minamino appearing suited to a typical no.10 role as part of a pressing unit.
His ability to stake a claim for a regular starting spot remains questionable given the quality standards required at Liverpool, but at least he'll finally be presented with a fair platform to exhibit his true ability next season.