Jurgen Klopp dismissed the idea that Takumi Minamino’s match-winning performance against Norwich City was fuelled by the anger of missing out on the Carabao Cup final squad.
The Japan international responded to being omitted for Sunday’s penalty shootout win over Chelsea at Wembley by scoring both goals in the 2-1 victory over the Canaries in the FA Cup at Anfield on Wednesday night.
Klopp admitted it was likely a disappointing afternoon for Minamino at the weekend when he was left out for the showpiece at Wembley, but the Reds boss denied the versatile forward reacted negatively to the situation.
And Klopp was full of praise for what he called a “complete performance” from the 27-year-old as he helped them book a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
“Taki was very disappointed, I can imagine, but I never spoke to him about it,” Klopp said.
“These are the decisions I have to make for this lineup and actually my decision is very positive because I decide for the player but it means for others it is not so cool.
“That is how it is. I don’t think that is the reason why Taki played so well tonight, he is not the person for this type of anger or whatever.
“But it is just the situation he was in and the lineup for Sunday was kind of the right one because we won the game in the end and that is how it is.
“My decisions are tested by the results that we get and the players have to keep working, that is how it is.
“For me being a player at Liverpool FC is the best place you can be but it means you have to deal with situations you might not have to deal with somewhere else.
“Because you don’t play all the time but then you don’t have a chance to play a final all the time [somewhere else] or there are no chances to win silverware, so these are the decisions the players have to make.
“But the door is always open because you will get your chance and then you have to deliver.
“Then you are part of it and Taki was a massive part of the journey in the Carabao Cup and that he didn’t play in the final might have been hard for him.
“But in the long term, when he looks back, he just won the Carabao Cup with Liverpool and that is a really good thing.”
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Klopp added: “Taki, he scored two goals and that was obvious, but he also had some top, top football moments as well.
“He was mobile, he was quick, he was technically incredible and you saw how he controlled the ball when it was high and it was windy.
“I am surprised he could show this but he showed it to the public which is absolutely great.
“It was maybe [his best Liverpool performance]. It was an exceptional game for sure.
“It was a complete performance, the two goals were great but all the rest he did was top class.
“He shows every time he has everything, that is why he is our player.
“Taki came in at a difficult time: coronavirus, wasn’t at full throttle, no supporters in the stadium, playing with a good football team, but he needed time and at the moment he looks like at the peak of the things he can do.
“There are more difficult situations than Taki’s in the world out there but it’s not easy to be in and out with these kinds of things.
“His character is obviously top class, so when I give him his opportunity he is delivering on a top-class level.”