One Liverpool player is believed to have been taken aback when Jurgen Klopp came calling to sign him.
In a report for The Athletic, James Pearce described how even Wataru Endo was ‘surprised’ by the Reds’ move for him in August, when he joined from Stuttgart in a £16.2m deal.
The LFC manager described the 30-year-old Japan international as a ‘late bloomer’ and ultimately managed to persuade an initially doubtful FSG to bring him in on a four-year contract for the aforementioned transfer fee.
It’d be fair to suggest that not many Liverpool fans would’ve had Endo on their list of anticipated summer signings when the 2022/23 season reached its conclusion.
Then again, fewer still would’ve foreseen Fabinho and Jordan Henderson leaving for Saudi Arabia with less than two weeks remaining until the current campaign got underway, a double curveball which paved the way for the Reds to pounce for the Japan captain.
The need for an experienced defensive midfielder at that juncture was glaring, especially after we lost out to Chelsea for both Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, but the capture of the 30-year-old at least offered breathing space following a turbulent period of the transfer window.
Endo is significantly older than the other three players recruited by Liverpool during the summer, although history has shown that savvy signings in their 30s can make a lasting impact at Anfield – think back to Gary McAllister during the 2000/01 season, for example.
It’s also worth noting how the ex-Stuttgart ace was lauded by Yahoo Japan as a ‘midfield genius’ in recent days following his fantastic performance in his country’s 4-1 thrashing of Germany.
He mightn’t have been the most glamorous name recruited by the Reds, but in a season where squad depth is set to be pivotal with a frequent diet of Thursday-Sunday scheduling, he could yet have a massively important role to play for us.