Wataru Endo’s Liverpool move may not have caused a stir like Moises Caicedo or Romeo Lavia but it makes total sense as Jurgen Klopp’s new midfield ‘MONSTER’ helps 10-men Reds clinch three points against Bournemouth
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It was a transfer that did not grab the headlines like Chelsea’s trolley dash for Liverpool targets Moises Caicedo or Romeo Lavia. It was an arrival that did not generate the excitement like World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister or big-money creator Dominik Szoboszlai.
But Wataru Endo’s move to Merseyside is a piece of business that makes sense on a number of levels and the Japan captain says it was a special moment to make his premature debut on Saturday, after he came on to bolster Liverpool’s midfield after Mac Allister’s red card.
‘It was amazing to play here – a great feeling, great atmosphere, to warm up and the fans were chanting my name, Endo,’ he said. ‘They made such a special atmosphere, and I was so happy to play at Anfield.
‘At the beginning of the week I was getting ready to play in the Bundesliga, at the end of the week I am playing here at Anfield in front of all these fans – it is crazy. I didn’t have time to do any training, only one day. So it was hard, but it was special for me.’
Jurgen Klopp is said to be delighted with the signing and has fielded a number of texts from people back home in Germany including prominent former players during stints at Mainz and Borussia Dortmund who have watched Endo up close in the Bundesliga.
Liverpool’s new signing Watary Endo made his Liverpool debut in Saturday’s win over Bournemouth
The Japan captain (left) has been hailed as Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp (right) since moving to Merseyside
Compared to other Bundesliga midfielders in the last two completed seasons, the former Stuttgart man ranked highest for possession won (254), aerial duels won (219), clearances (175), headed clearances (105) – and he was second for touches, passes and tackles.
‘When you see him running around now there is no chance anyone would say he was 30,’ said Klopp on Friday. ‘He doesn’t look old enough to drive a car! On the pitch he looks like a monster.’ No wonder he was a name on Klopp’s shortlist for, as he says, ‘LFC reloaded’.
Endo followed developments in transfer sagas involving Caicedo and Lavia – both of whom were at times close to joining Liverpool – and was quietly pleased when those moves fell through. ‘To be honest I followed Liverpool’s news, that they wanted a midfielder and a No 6,’ he said.
‘But I thought Caicedo had gone to Liverpool. So when he went to Chelsea I just thought, “Maybe, maybe!” I thought maybe they needed experienced midfielders because (Jordan) Henderson and Fabinho had moved, so there may be a chance.’
He got his chance and in replacing Hendo with Endo, Liverpool have found another midfielder who genuinely believes there is nowhere better to play their football – although that didn’t work out well in the end for Henderson after his controversial departure – and will give his all.
MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS
LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Alisson 6; Alexander-Arnold 5 (Gomez 76min), Konate 6, Van Dijk 5, Robertson 5; Szoboszlai 8 MOTM, Mac Allister 5.5, Gakpo 7 (Endo 63, 6); Salah 7 (Tsimikas 90+1), Jota 7.5 (Elliott 76), Diaz 7 (Nunez 90+1).
Subs not used: Kelleher, Matip, Bajcetic, Doak.
Booked: Alisson. Sent off: Mac Allister.
Manager: Jurgen Klopp 7.
BOURNEMOUTH (4-2-3-1): Neto 7; Aarons 5, Zabarnyi 6, Senesi 6 (Traore 84), Kerkez 5; Semenyo 7 (Brooks 76), Rothwell 6 (Kelly 76); Christie 6.5 (Moore 63), Billing 6, Anthony 7 (Kluivert 63, 6); Solanke 6.5.
Subs not used: Radu, Hill, Kilkenny, Mepham.
Booked: Semenyo, Anthony, Neto.
Manager: Andoni Iraola 6.5.
Referee: Thomas Bramall 4.
Attendance: not given.
Endo (pictured) made his premature Liverpool debut after Alexis Mac Allister (right) was sent off against Bournemouth
He has a phenomenally reliable injury record, having missed just two league games through injury in the last two seasons – one was Covid-related and one was due to concussion. Endo is a leader and versatile option who can play No 6, right back and centre back.
The Japanese star has sought advice from compatriots Taki Minamino, the former Liverpool midfielder now at Monaco, and Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu. Though he was signed for a low fee of £16.2million, Endo will have a pivotal role to play in this team.
Liverpool are likely to appeal Alexis Mac Allister’s red card against Bournemouth, with the Argentine set to miss three matches. The club believe it was not a reckless tackle. But if it was to be upheld, Endo suddenly might be crucial to success in a thin midfield.
Endo added: ‘I just try to say to myself, “This is the only chance you can move to Liverpool, because they always try to get younger players”. But every team can get younger players, right, so yeah I got that chance, and I intend to take it.’
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