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Okazaki: Minamino must step it up at Liverpool

Shinji Okazaki has challenged Liverpool forward Takumi Minamino to make his own stamp on European football.

Japan international Minamino moved to Anfield from RB Salzburg in January, but has struggled for playing time among the Reds firing front-three.

And former Leicester City star Okazaki hopes Minamino doesn't follow in the footsteps of Keisuke Honda and Shinji by failing to impress at one of the world's biggest clubs.

Okazaki told the Evening Standard of Minamino: "I watch some of the games on TV and I don't see negative things.

"He plays well with and without the ball. He is getting confidence after he changed team.

"I know the Premier League is the hardest league in the world. Every season they spend a lot of money and Liverpool was the last winner of the Champions League and already had quality in their squad.

"But he can improve himself and I think that's important for him and Japanese football.

"At first, he just had quality but now he knows how to fight, he is quicker - he changed his style of play in the last two years."

"Some time ago, we had Shinji Kagawa in Manchester, Yuto Nagatomo with Inter, Keisuke Honda in Milan, but they couldn't show the best level.

"Now, we see that it is time for Japanese football to go to the next step. We need players in Europe playing every week in the biggest teams."

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Paul Vegas

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