• AFP-JIJI, Kyodo


Takumi Minamino signed with Champions League holder Liverpool on Thursday for a reported fee of £7.25 million ($9.5 million) from Austrian outfit Red Bull Salzburg, the Premier League leader announced.

The 24-year-old forward, who impressed Liverpool in its two Champions League group matches this season with the Austrian side, is believed to have signed a 4½-year contract.

“Liverpool Football Club can confirm an agreement has been reached with Red Bull Salzburg for the transfer of Takumi Minamino,” the club said in a statement on their website.

Minamino — who scored in Salzburg’s 4-3 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield in October — said he has fulfilled a dream.

“It has been a dream, my dream to become a Liverpool player,” he was quoted as saying by Liverpool.com.

“And I’m so excited that the moment has come true. To play in the Premier League was one of my targets.”

Minamino added: “I think this is the top-class league in the world; I was thinking if my career as a footballer progressed smoothly, someday I would be able to play in the Premier League.

“But I never thought I would be able to play in this team and I’m really happy about it.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said Minamino is a courageous player.

“He is very quick and a very brave player,” said Klopp.

“He is brave with the ball but also brave without the ball.”

Liverpool, whose senior squad is preparing for Saturday’s Club World Cup final in Qatar, activated Minamino’s release clause last week.

Minamino will be free to play for Liverpool on Jan. 1 and could be involved in the F.A. Cup third- round tie at home to city rival Everton on Jan. 5.

The Osaka native’s move brings an end to his five-year spell with Salzburg, which he joined from the J. League’s Cerezo Osaka in January 2015.

In total, Minamino, an Osaka native, made 199 appearances for Salzburg, scoring 64 goals, while he has earned 22 caps for Japan and scored 11 times since making his debut in October 2015.

He has been a prolific scorer for Japan since becoming a national team mainstay under manager Hajime Moriyasu.

A versatile attacker, he has played primarily on the right wing for Salzburg, but can also be deployed on the opposite wing or as a striker.


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