When Liverpool announced the signing of Takumi Minamino from RB Salzburg in December 2019, it made sense for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it provided some established cover for a starting cast of attackers that desperately needed the relief.
Secondly, though, it was virtually risk free.
The miniscule fee involved, somewhere around the £7.5m mark, eliminated any chance of it blowing up in their faces. Even if it didn't quite work out, they were covered, and stood to make a decent profit on their investment.
The fact that Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi started against West Ham at the weekend, as Minamino watched on from the bench, doesn't exactly bode well for his immediate future at Anfield - especially when Diogo Jota stands on the verge of a return from injury that will push him even further down the pecking order.
It's unclear what has changed for a player who has managed just six minutes on the pitch since he played a key role in dismantling Crystal Palace just before Christmas, but it was always a possibility when he signed on a shoestring deal from RB Salzburg.
And while Plan A would have been for him to grasp the gold rings and carve out a place for himself in the first team, it is now vital for the contingency that he plays regular football somewhere else for the second half of 2020/21.
Southampton is exactly the right-place for the misfitting forward to relaunch a career that still holds real promise. Ralph Hasenhuttl has steadily implemented a style of football that will be well familiar to Minamino - the parallels between the Austrian's Saints and the RB Salzburg side in which he rose to prominence need little explanation.
According to David Ornstein, there is real excitement at Southampton about adding Minamino to their ranks, and how could there not be? As recently as late 2019, he was tearing things up in Austria to the same extent that Sadio Mane was prior to his move to the south coast, and they now have a clearly defined tactical style that is far more suited to such an energetic pressing forward.
That's not to say Minamino will rock up and conquer like Mane did, but with regular football, it's reasonable to expect some strong performances from a player who will be desperate to make an impact.
Should he perform as expected, that leaves Liverpool in a strong position come the summer - do they give him a second chance to work his way into the side, or do they cash in for a substantial profit just as he comes into the peak of his powers?
It may not be exactly what they envisioned when they announced his signing 12 months ago, but a loan to the south coast allows Liverpool, and Minamino, to make a win of the situation yet.
Source : 90min