Liverpool in the battle to sign 24-year-old Japan international

Merseyside club are ready to step up their interest in Red Bull Salzburg winger Takumi Minamino and could trigger his £8m release clause in winter. Liverpool believe the 24-year-old attacker’s true valuation is closer to £20m and feel they would be landing a bargain, capable of making a near-immediate impact at first-team level.

Takumi has impressed in the Champions League with the Reds this campaign, scoring in the 4-3 defeat at Anfield and provided a constant threat during Tuesday’s reverse game which the holders eventually won 2-0 to seal their spot in the knockout stage of the tournament.

Merseyside club has swept all before them on the domestic front this campaign, dropping only two points from their opening 16 PL games and reaching the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup.

Fixtures, however, are beginning to pile up with Reds also involved in next week’s Club World Cup in Qatar, forcing them to play a team of teenagers with Aston Villa in the League Cup on Tuesday.

Despite their all-conquering form, Merseyside club have become reliant on their formidable front three of Firmino, Salah and Mane. Origi has chipped in with valuable goals, but Shaqiri has played just two games since September and highly-rated youngster Rhian Brewster is yet to feature in the PL.

The German tactician has been a keen admirer of Japan international’s, even before his exploits in this campaign’s UCL, and has taken keen note of the Salzburg talent factory which has nurtured the likes of Mane and fellow Liverpool partner Naby Keita.