Liverpool decided to finally commit to a defensive midfield option this window as they very surprisingly secured the services of Wataru Endo for €18 million from Stuttgart in Germany.
Endo, 30, is both the captain for club and at the National team level for Japan. He brings a wealth of playing experience, but not a lot at the top level of the game. As a result, his arrival has been received with some skepticism.
However, upon closer examination, if this signing is not the final piece to the Reds summer midfield plans, it could prove to be an astute move. In addition to the No. 6 role, Wataru has also played center-back and right-back.
This kind of positional versatility at his rather modest fee, could prove invaluable for a team that has been wrecked by injuries throughout the squad in recent years.
If he is going to be asked to be the starting defensive midfielder for 35-40 matches this season, we might have a problem. Could he make the jump to the Premier League with ease at his age? Sure, but it’s not something the club should be banking on.
A younger more long-term option needs to be acquired before the window shuts. Endo can fulfill the James Milner role. Whenever Jurgen Klopp needs a plug and play option, he can turn to his new Japanese star.
If he is utilized properly during the campaign, Wataru Endo can prove to be a very good player for the club.
Klopp typically allows his new arrivals time to mesh and integrate within the team. Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai both have had the entirety of the preseason to find their places.
Endo will have no such luck, as the Premier League season is well and truly underway and the side are in desperate need of reinforcements. This just must not be, I repeat, must not be the final midfield addition.
He will bring leadership qualities which is something the club should embrace after the departures of Jordan Henderson and Milner among others this summer.
There is a void in that department, and the signing of Wataru alleviates some of those stresses. However, he cannot lead properly until his role is truly defined and he gains a comfortable footing in the English game.
He has been rated as one of the best defensive midfielders in the Bundesliga which bodes well for his natural abilities.
The signing of Wataru Endo was clearly addressing depth issues but also in response to two very public failures in the market. The club needed to secure a quality player not only for the on-field benefit, but to begin rehabilitating their image in the transfer market.
Ideally, this move will be followed by another midfielder and a defender. The club is still playing with fire with the overall depth issues and it must be resolved quickly.
If Wataru Endo is expected to come in and solve all of Liverpool’s problems, that will most likely not end well for either party. For now, we can be excited the Reds got a transfer completed and sealed.
With the proper expectations and assistance, Endo can have a very successful spell at Anfield. Let’s hope that’s the case.