AS Monaco has just offered Takumi Minamino. An operation that looks like a hell of a bet for both parties. The Rock club is no doubt hoping to achieve a nice marketing coup in addition to densifying its offensive sector, while the Japanese striker will try to restore momentum to a career that has stagnated since his time at Liverpool.
If a deafening silence sometimes emanates from Louis-II, there is one place that is always full in Monaco: the casino. A place that has visibly influenced the decision-makers of the Red and Whites since they are preparing to make a bold bet, that of bringing Takumi Minamino back to the Rock. A move that smells good of the marketing operation in Asia, but which could also represent a real added value on the sporting level for the Asemists. The Japanese international will have to forget his time at Liverpool, which was not really memorable despite some encouraging outings.
Minamino and stockings
“It’s a crime that Minamino plays so little. » These were the words used by Jürgen Klopp in mid-May to pay tribute to the international with 42 selections while apologizing for not being able to guarantee him more playing time. At 27, the native of Izumisano only played 24 games last season, only 9 as a starter. Despite the few minutes played, the one who can move anywhere on the front of the attack still managed to be decisive. Mainly aligned in the FA Cup and the League Cup, he planted seven of his ten pawns of the season in these two competitions. A significant contribution that allowed his teammates in the Reds to go and conquer these two new trophies while he found the bench again, or the stands, for the two finals.
What he will no longer be able to afford on the Rock. Dan Orlowitz, journalist at Japan Timesexplains the stakes of this transfer for Minamino: “He is supposed to be a key player for Japan for the next World Cup, but playing in Europe is not enough to have that status. Now, it’s no longer something extraordinary to see a Japanese player in Europe. He will not have the luxury of spending the first months or weeks on the bench and will have to perform immediately. » Especially since after arriving in Salzburg in 2015, it could well be one of the last contracts in Europe for the one who is presented as the successor to Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda. “It’s probably his best last chancesays Orlowitz. He should stay in Europe for another three or four years, but if he fails to become the star of the national team as expected, he is unlikely to be part of the plans for 2026. It is his best chance to get back in the loop. »
Everybody wants to take the place
Question circuit, difficult to find better than the Principality and its legendary Grand Prix of Formula 1. By changing team, the Japanese could well find a starting place. After having groped for a long time on his arrival, Philippe Clement had managed to install a real starting lineup at the end of the season. Thus, when the Monegasques lined up nine successes – for only one small draw – over the last ten days of the championship, the Belgian technician had placed on his wings – except in the event of injuries or suspensions – Aleksandr Golovin and Vanderson. With the departure of Djibril Sidibé, the Brazilian should go back down a notch and settle on the right flank of the Red and White defence. Minamino should thus be in competition with Krépin Diatta, Sofiane Diop and Gelson Martins for an attacking position. Injured for a long time, the former player of Bruges should nevertheless not be able to run for a place in the eleven of the ASM immediately.
Regarding the last two, the international hopes has lost his starting status since the arrival of Clement, and the Portuguese shines more often by his inaccuracies than by his sense of goal. One of the two could also pack his bags this summer to make way for the former Salzburg. “I am very happy, I have known him for a long timethe Belgian coach was enthusiastic about the arrival of Minamino last Saturday. He was very high on our list. Everyone here is convinced that he has the qualities to bring something to the team. »
A market to conquer
Even better, the skinny Japanese (1.74m, 67 kg) could well bring big money to the ASM. “The strategy of big clubs right now is to have greater visibility in emerging markets, and Japan is one of them.” , confesses Luc Arrondel, football economist. Given the links that exist between the club and the Principality, he believes that he could “there are touristic aims in there. » The Monegasques could well decide to exploit the Minamino vein to develop their business in Asia. “It really depends on what the club is ready to do. It’s not just about selling jerseys. Will the club invest in Japanese social networks?asks Orlowitz. Having a Twitter account in Japanese is essential to promote yourself in the Japanese market. And above all, we will have to promote the club, the team or its history, more than Minamino alone to hope for a place. » Another problem is the broadcast of Ligue 1. This year, unless you subscribe to Hulu, an online platform, to be able to watch one match a day on TV5 Monde, it is impossible to see the matches of the championship of the century. A fact that could well curb the enthusiasm of Monegasque leaders, since according to the journalist, “There’s not much you can do if people don’t have access to the games. » Far from being prohibitive however as long as the season has not started: “In 2014, Basel signed Yoichiro Kakitani. One of the country’s main broadcasters, Sky perfect TV, bought the rights to the Swiss championship only because Kakitani needed to become a superstar. »
Despite a bitter failure for the one who returned to the country twelve months later, some broadcasters could well be tempted by the French championship. Especially since “Monaco is undoubtedly part of the top 3 in Japan, behind PSG, which has three of the greatest players in the world and Marseille, which saw Hiroki Sakai and the immense Kōji Nakata pass. » Another argument that could do the business of the ASM, the World Cup. “Having one of the stars of the national team playing there is bound to change the calculations” , details Orlowitz. Enough to bring a broadcaster back to Japan? “If this is the case, for Monaco, this could materialize by a change of timetable and a move to 1 p.m. on Sunday (i.e. 8 p.m. in Tokyo, editor’s note) » , abounds Luc Arrondel. Unless by the end of August, Philippe Clement and his men have done what is necessary to make the sweet music of the Champions League resound again in the Principality. And there is no doubt that the arrival of Takumi Minamino will not be too much to achieve this.
Pair Florian Porta