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“You never know” – Even Jurgen Klopp is surprised at “world class” Wataru Endo


Jurgen Klopp always had faith in Wataru Endo, despite the low profile of his arrival at Liverpool, but his display against Man City showed he is “world class.”

When Liverpool agreed a £16 million deal with Stuttgart to sign Endo back in August, there was little fanfare around the Japanese’s transfer.

Given it came in the wake of failed moves for Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, it could be argued that there was even disappointment over the development of Liverpool’s plans.

But Endo has defied expectations, overcoming a slow start at Anfield to cement himself as a key player within Klopp’s midfield.

That continued on Sunday, with an outstanding performance in the 1-1 draw with Man City, playing a central role in dominating a midfield that included Rodri and Kevin De Bruyne.

In his post-match interview with BBC Sport, Klopp lauded “so many sensational performances” from his side, before being questioned directly on Endo.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 23, 2023: Liverpool's Wataru End? during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Asked if his No. 3 has been better than even he expected, the Liverpool manager almost agreed.

“What can you expect? That you sign a 30-year-old captain of Japan and he will be a standout player in the Premier League?” he said.

“That he would be a good player, we knew, but what he’s making of that role, together with Macca, or then with Dom or then with Harvey – by the way, what a game he played…

“You never know that people can develop to world class, but that’s what happened.”

Though the term ‘world class’ is thrown around too often in modern football, there was a conviction in Klopp’s words when it came to Endo.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 25, 2024: Liverpool's Wataru End? lifts the trophy after the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 1-0 after extra-time. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is a remarkable story, as the midfielder himself would have been forgiven for believing his chance of playing at the very top level may have passed as he stayed at Stuttgart beyond his 30th birthday.

A suffocating display against one of the best midfield units in world football led to Pep Guardiola bringing off an exasperated De Bruyne in the 69th minute.

And Liverpool supporters echoed Klopp’s praise during and after the game.

Former Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva was one of those to highlight Endo’s influence, writing: “What a player you are Wataru, makes the team keep going and connecting all the time.”

In many ways, his story sums up Klopp’s reign at Anfield – an underdog defying the odds to shine among the elite.