Wataru Endo: More Than An Alternative

When looking at the bits and pieces that comprise a Jurgen Klopp team, you certainly have a
few options that you could consider as the most important position. A speedy set of wingers helps. A forward who can distribute is vital. Defenders who win every duel or a keeper who is good with his feet keep the pace up. But if there is one position that truly elevates Liverpool among the elite teams in European football, it’s the defensive midfielder role. It is a position that Wataru Endo has had to learn on the fly this season, and, to his credit, is doing extremely well.

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The Better Option

Who could forget the transfer drama that involved Liverpool towards the end of the 2023 summer deadline? A last-minute tug-of-war with Chelsea for Moises Caicedo ended with the Reds losing out on the former Brighton man. Faced with the prospect of entering a season without a true defensive midfielder, the Reds took a gamble on Endo.

ASTV Shorts: High Praise For Endo

Then the captain of Stuttgart, Endo was presumably a stop-gap option. Admittedly, I was one of those fans who felt a little shaky about the Endo signing, considering how critical the position is in Klopp’s setup. Fortunately, the Japanese international proved everyone wrong and has seemed like the better option over Caicedo entering this final stretch of the season.

Making His Name

At the time of writing, any doubts about Endo’s quality have been put to bed. He has put forth standout performances against Fulham, Arsenal, Newcastle, and Man United in the league. His heroic performance in the League Cup final has firmly established Endo as a fan favorite. Despite him needing some time to adapt to the speed and ferocity of the Premier League, he has certainly established himself as arguably one of the first-choice names on the team sheet, as his combination of ball-winning, desire, and experience is unique in our relatively new midfield.

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Endo’s Critical Role

As we approach the business end of the season, the 31-year-old will have a massive part to play. With injuries ravaging the squad over the last month, particularly in midfield, Endo is needed more than ever. His composure has proved invaluable in helping Liverpool navigate through the current crisis.

Being the only true defensive midfielder in the squad, the protection he gives the backline is essential. If Liverpool is going to add more silverware to the Carabao Cup this year, he will play a massive part.

Lesson Learned

Roughly three-quarters of the season has passed, and it’s safe to consider the Endo signing a success. If there is one lesson to take from Liverpool’s late transfer window debacle it’s never to write a player off until he has proven himself. It’s great to see the many rival fans wondering how on earth Liverpool managed to unearth a gem like Endo. What pains them even more is that he arrived for an incredibly modest fee of just $21M.

With the last stretch of the season approaching, it’s time to back Endo and the lads, with the hope that we’ll be pleasantly surprised at the end of the year, in the same manner, we were at how great a player the former Stuttgart man is.

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