‘Would be better’ – Wataru Endo sends surprising Liverpool transfer advice to Edwards and Hughes

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Wataru Endo has imparted what may seem like surprising transfer advice to Michael Edwards and Richard Hughes.

The 31-year-old joined Liverpool from Stuttgart last August and enjoyed a solid first season at Anfield, making 43 appearaces and accruing 2,758 minutes of game-time (Transfermarkt).

However, in a recent interview with ABEMA Sports Time in his native Japan (via MSN), he advocated the Reds’ hierarchy to bring in another player in his defensive midfield position.

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Endo said (translated from Japanese): “I don’t care about those reports, but I also think it would be better to get a No. 6 midfielder! I think there is a possibility that they are viewing [Alexis] Mac Allister as a No. 6 anchor, but at the moment there aren’t many No. 6 players to begin with.

“I had the most opportunities to play, and so did Mac Allister. We also had Thiago Alcantara, but he had a lot of injuries and is set to leave the club at the end of this season. We also have a young Spanish player [Stefan Bajcetic], but it’s still unclear as to whether he will be able to contribute immediately.

“Considering my age [31], I think it might be OK for me to get the No. 6, but if it ultimately makes the team stronger then I’m all for it, because there will be competition and I just have to win my position again. I’m not really worried about it, and in fact I think it might be OK if I win!”

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While Endo was a largely sound presence at the base of Liverpool’s midfield last season, he looked well below his best as the team struggled in the final weeks of the campaign, with the exertions of the preceding months appearing to catch up with him.

That’s understandable given how much football he played – not even he could probably have envisaged the amount of game-time that he was granted – and Arne Slot may view him as a reliable squad option rather than a regular starter in 2024/25.

As the 31-year-old rightly points out, Thiago’s departure lessens the new head coach’s current options, while it’d be unwise to thrust too much responsibility on Bajcetic’s shoulders given his tender age and the length of his injury absence.

The likes of Mac Allister and Trent Alexander-Arnold can also play in the number 6 role, although neither would be regarded as a specialist in that position in the same manner as Endo or his predecessor Fabinho.

It therefore comes as no major surprise to see Liverpool being linked with defensive midfielders such as Monaco’s Youssouf Fofana and Benfica’s Joao Neves, although neither of those would come cheap.

When the Japanese enforcer is publicly advocating for a new CDM to be brought in, we’d like to think that it’s an area of the squad which’ll be on Hughes’ to-do list this summer. The 31-year-old certainly doesn’t seem daunted by the prospective arrival of further competition for a starting berth!

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