Liverpool legend Garcia thrilled by Minamino and expects to see more like Wu Lei and Kubo

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Former Liverpool star Luis Garcia cannot wait to see what kind of impact Takumi Minamino will make at Anfield following his recent transfer from Red Bull Salzburg.

And, the Japanese international is not the only Asian star that has caught the eye of Garcia, who has also been impressed by Wu Lei and Takefusa Kubo – both currently plying their trade in La Liga – and expects them to lead the way for more to follow.

Minamino is the newest face at Liverpool after catching the eye against the Reds earlier in the season when they took on Salzburg in the UEFA Champions League, prompting manager Jurgen Klopp to sanction a £7.25million move for the versatile attacker.

The 24-year-old made his debut in a 1-0 FA Cup third round win over local rivals Everton and could feature for the first time in the Premier League on Saturday against Tottenham, and Garcia cannot wait to see what Minamino – whose quality he believes should have cost the Reds way more – will bring to the side.

“[The transfer fee was] way too cheap,” he told FOX Sports Asia in a one-on-one interview, with a look of disbelief on his face. “When I saw it on the internet, I thought it was a joke.

“He got my attention because he’s one of those players – like [ex-Liverpool star Philippe] Coutinho – who can create something out of nothing – so creative and unpredictable. I love to watch him play.

“Technically he’s very good but he runs so much and, when he played against Liverpool, we were all looking at him waiting to see what he was going to do.

“He appears on the left and right, drops back and then goes to the front… when I saw he was signing, I was so happy and I think he’s going to bring so many good moments to Liverpool.”

Luis Garcia opens Liverpool’s official club store in Singapore’s Bugis Junction.

Garcia was speaking to FOX Sports Asia on Friday as the guest of the opening of the club’s official store in Singapore – the tenth of its kind – which will bring Liverpool closer to its many fans not only in the country but the wider Southeast Asia region.

The Spaniard enjoyed three successful seasons at Anfield, winning both the Champions League and FA Cup, and knows all about playing in a strong squad where competition for places is high – something Minamino has in front of him as he looks to force his way into an attack that usually comprises of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.

“He [Minamino] will know [the situation] for sure and it’s very difficult to find a player right now – if it’s not Lionel Messi – that will fit straight into the starting XI of Liverpool,” Garcia added.

“I’m sure that all the players that now arrive at Liverpool know they are going to add something. It’s a long season with so many games to be played across so many competitions, so everybody is going to be needed at some point.

 

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“We saw it last season when [Georginio] Wijnaldum wasn’t playing, [Divock] Origi wasn’t playing, [Xherdan] Shaqiri wasn’t playing, and they ended up being key players in Liverpool winning the Champions League, so I think he [Minamino] is going to be a great addition to the team.”

Apart from his time with the Reds, Garcia was also known for his spells with La Liga giants Barcelona and Atletico Madrid while he winded down his career with Atletico Kolkata and Central Coast Mariners of India and Australia respectively, making him quite familiar with Asian football.

When asked about his thoughts on what needs to be done for Asia to close the gap with European football, he believes it is just a matter of time but is encouraged by recent examples of Espanyol’s China PR international Wu and Japanese teenager Kubo, who was signed by Real Madrid in the summer but is currently on loan at Mallorca.

Wu Lei and Takefusa Kubo have caught the eye at Espanyol and Mallorca respectively.

“It’s about history,” explained the ex-Spain international, who featured at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

“We’re talking about [an existence of] 115 years for some of the clubs in England, Spain and Germany and 20 years [for some clubs in] Asia. Even the Chinese [Super] League has only been around of 15 years.

“At the end of the day, it’s a matter of culture but that is changing, of course.

“You can see from the numbers that now there’s a lot more Asians playing in Europe: Wu Lei playing in Spain with Espanyol, Minamino just arrived at Liverpool, there’s Kubo at Mallorca…

“You see more and more players joining top teams and becoming top players. While before you could see maybe two or three, now there are ten or 15.

“That’s the difference and we’ll see more and more than Asian football is becoming stronger and it’s only a matter of time before one of the national teams gets a good result in the World Cup.”

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