LIVERPOOL have a former Manchester United player to thank for the arrival of Takumi Minamino at Anfield.
And it is a good job the Japanese international listened to fellow countryman Shinji Kagawa – who played under Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund – and agreed to the move from Red Bull Salzburg.
With little likely to happen on the transfer front at Liverpool – particularly in the offensive department – Minamino could have a major role to play this season when the front three are struggling.
And his goalscoring substitute appearance was certainly the most encouraging aspect of the champions’ run-out at Wembley.
Kagawa, who told Minamino that Klopp is the best coach he has ever played for, failed to set Old Trafford alight in his two years at the club.
Minamino, 25, is lucky that he is not being weighed down by a price tag. His release clause from Red Bull Salzburg was just £7.25million – even though he was worth £35m.
After being given a few months to get his feet under the table as Liverpool sauntered towards the title, Minamino could now be under a considerable amount of pressure because Liverpool’s attacking options are so limited after Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Bobby Firmino.
Divock Origi, a bit-part player at best despite being a cult hero among Reds fans, was not involved yesterday.
Other than Minamino, Klopp’s only other attacking option was Rhian Brewster. He was brought on as a substitute for the penalties and promptly missed from the spot.
Arsenal – who defended well and were superb in possession – were comfortably the better team until Klopp made his changes just before the hour.
He switched from 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 with Minamino being introduced alongside Naby Keita, who also added some urgency in midfield.
Salah moved to a central position, with Mane out wide to the right, Firmino as a number 10 and Minamino out left.
Firmino and Minamino caused Arsenal’s previously solid defence some problems by inter-changing. When Minamono was handed a chance, he gobbled it up, giving impressive keeper Emi Martinez no chance.
Minamino also made no mistake with his penalty in the spot-kicks with Klopp delighted with both finishes.
He said: “It is very important for us because it was the only thing he missed so far – scoring for us in whichever game. Today it was finally there and it helps us a lot. It was good.”
With Arsenal deserved winners, Klopp would not have shed too many tears at failing to land a fifth trophy as Liverpool manager.
For a start, he did not even want to take part in the fixture and the champions appeared to be doing their best last month to try and avoid playing.
But you would hope that some of his players – including Salah – will certainly be a lot sharper when Leeds visit Merseyside on September 12.
You can bet Marcelo Bielsa will have a few tricks up his sleeve.
And if the Argentine coach gets someone to get the binoculars out at Melwood, they should have another look at Minamino.