Takumi Minamino has forced Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp to reconsider his transfer strategy.
Few would have predicted Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino leading a Liverpool assault in the summer.
Both players were expected to leave soon, with Minamino having spent the second half of last season on loan at Southampton and Origi having not started a game since January.
But, if Origi’s Anfield career was not revived, at least restarted, with his shock Champions League appearance against AC Milan last week, it was Minamino’s turn to make the most of his chance today.
The Japanese international impressed during pre-season, but he had to wait until this Carabao Cup third round tie to make his debut on the left flank alongside Origi and Kaide Gordon.
Minamino needed just four minutes to justify assistant manager Pep Lijnders’ pre-match plaudits, turning on Origi’s knockdown from a Kostas Tsimikas corner and slotting the ball between the legs of Norwich goalkeeper Angus Gunn.
Minamino has always looked more dangerous when playing on the left flank for Liverpool, and he connected up brilliantly with Origi and the outstanding Naby Keita in the first half to poke openings in the home defense.
While Minamino still needs to work on his defensive diligence, he did a better job here of providing constant cover for Tsimikas.
And his undoubted perseverance paid off 10 minutes from time as he wriggled onto Alex Oxlade-short Chamberlain’s pass before poking home to give Jurgen Klopp’s much-changed team a comfortable 3-0 triumph.
Minamino doesn’t have to go far for inspiration, with Klopp’s recent resurrection of Origi serving as yet another evidence of Klopp’s willingness to trust the resources at his disposal.
The Belgian’s excellent header five minutes after the break from another enticing Tsimikas cross was his first goal in this competition since netting at Lincoln City almost a year ago.
Progress in the Carabao Cup assures more opportunities for both Minamino and Origi, and the more they gain confidence, the more speculation abounds about whether Klopp will have to make a transfer move once Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane go for the Africa Cup of Nations in January.
Between now and then, there will be plenty of football to watch. “The summary has come to an end.”