Trust the scouts: Wataru Endo could be exactly the midfielder Liverpool are hunting for

Liverpool are being linked with a £16 million swoop for VfB Stuttgart midfielder Wataru Endo.
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If nothing else, his name is easy enough to remember. Just like Hendo without the H, isn’t it? Certainly kinder on the old hippocampus than Dominik Szoboszlai.

On Wednesday evening, the news broke, somewhat unexpectedly, that Liverpool were rapidly closing in on a deal to sign Japanese midfielder Wataru Endo from VfB Stuttgart. The overwhelming response from supporters, as they clamoured for a big name signing, was a resounding ‘Who the bloody hell is that?’.

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Now, I will admit that my personal knowledge of Endo is pretty lacking. Then again, the inherent nature of journalism is masquerading as a passable expert in any given field for a couple of hours at a time. As such, I reckon I could cobble together a fairly informative piece that would leave us all feeling relatively satisfied that he isn’t just a figment of our collective imagination.

Wataru Endo celebrates scoring for VfB Stuttgart against FSV Mainz 05. Japanese midfielder Wataru Endo has been linked with a move to Liverpool, and could prove to be a smart signing for Jurgen Klopp’s side, despite being a relative unknown to Premier League fans.Wataru Endo celebrates scoring for VfB Stuttgart against FSV Mainz 05. Japanese midfielder Wataru Endo has been linked with a move to Liverpool, and could prove to be a smart signing for Jurgen Klopp’s side, despite being a relative unknown to Premier League fans.
Wataru Endo celebrates scoring for VfB Stuttgart against FSV Mainz 05. Japanese midfielder Wataru Endo has been linked with a move to Liverpool, and could prove to be a smart signing for Jurgen Klopp’s side, despite being a relative unknown to Premier League fans.

I could tell you, for instance, that he is 30 years old, and that he was born in Totsuka-ku, Yokohama on February 9th 1993. I could tell you that he started his career with Shonan Bellmare in his home country, that he earned a move to current Asian Champions League holders Urawa Red Diamonds six years later, that he made his first foray into European football with Belgian outfit Sint-Truiden, and that he signed for Stuttgart permanently in 2020 after a prior loan stint in Germany. Hell, I could I even tell you that he predominantly operates as a defensive midfielder, but can play at the heart of defence, and that he is captain of both his club and his national team.

All of that trivia barely tickles the surface, though. You see, it feels as if there has been a certain amount of indignation vented in the aftermath of the Endo story emerging. From the outside, there is absolutely a measure of mockery. It’s almost as if both Liverpool fans and their bitterest rivals are in jarring agreement that the Kop is deserving of a more illustrious solution to their current midfield crisis. The question is, why?

Delve a little deeper into the fleshy folds of Endo’s output, and suddenly the reasons for the Reds’ interest become an awful lot clearer. Since the beginning of the 2020/21 campaign, no midfielder in the Bundesliga has won more aerial duels, made more clearances, or recovered possession more times in their own defensive third. BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!!! The Stuttgart skipper also ranks second in the division for passes completed, possession recoveries in the middle and final thirds, successful tackles, and number of overall touches. In other words, we’re talking about one of the most influential midfielders in one of most the prestigious leagues in world football - and he’s done it all in a side who have spent the past two seasons flashing an ankle at the prospect of relegation.

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In essence, what I am trying to say is that sometimes you just have to trust the scouting department. It doesn’t matter if you personally recognise a player, or how well they perform virtually in the pixelated gumbo of FIFA Ultimate Team or a soulless Football Manager spreadsheet, there are instances when the folks who are paid to know these things better than us casual observers do, in fact, know them better.

And anyways, for what it’s worth, having a working knowledge of a new signing is vastly, vastly overrated. Do you know who I had heard of prior to them signing for Liverpool? Rickie Lambert. And Mario Balotelli. And Arthur Melo. Just look how their respective Anfield stints played out.

On paper, Endo might not be the staggering midfield acquisition that supporters were hoping for. Indeed, he may not even be the only signing Liverpool make between now and the end of the transfer window. But just because he isn’t a household name, and just because he won’t cost the club upwards of £50 million, it doesn’t mean that he can’t still be a very astute, very effective addition to Jurgen Klopp’s squad.

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