Fabrizio Romano has admitted that he was ‘really shocked’ when first hearing of Wataru Endo’s move to Liverpool this summer.
The Japanese midfielder signed for the Reds from Stuttgart last month in a £16m deal (BBC Sport), becoming the third of four players to join Jurgen Klopp’s squad during the transfer window.
It was a move which gathered pace suddenly and was wrapped up quickly, in contrast to many of the sagas we now see in the market, and even the ever-reliable Italian reporter seemed to be caught off guard when it broke.
In his exclusive Daily Briefing for CaughtOffside, Romano wrote: “Honestly, the Endo to Liverpool story was one of the most surprising of the summer. It was an exclusive story of mine and I was really shocked when my sources informed me about it – I didn’t know the player well so I was very surprised.
“But at the same time, my sources told me: this is a very good player, and it’s a very smart deal by Liverpool.”
It’d be fair to say that, at the start of the transfer window, not many Liverpool fans would’ve had Endo on a list of anticipated summer signings.
However, the exit of Fabinho to Al-Ittihad in late July was every bit as unexpected and left the Reds scrambling to bring in a defensive midfielder, with the 30-year-old lured from Stuttgart after botched attempts at big-money moves for Romeo Lavia and Moises Caicedo.
His arrival at least ensured that Klopp had an experienced number 6 to call upon at Anfield, with his options in that role subsequently enhanced by the deadline day arrival of Ryan Gravenberch.
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Even if he didn’t come to Liverpool with the same fanfare as, for instance, Jude Bellingham would have, Endo has had a steady start to his time on Merseyside, dealing with the challenge of playing in a 10-man team for most of his 85 minutes on the pitch so far in a red shirt (Transfermarkt).
The hope will be that, over time the Japan international’s signing becomes recognised as another shrewd left-field coup by LFC, who’ve had plenty of those over the past decade.