When Liverpool announced the signing of Wataru Endo, it didn’t quite set the football world on fire. The buzz was missing, and some even labeled it a “panic buy.” At first glance, this versatile midfielder may seem unpromising; but take a closer look and you may come to realize why he could be exactly the player Liverpool need in their team.
Endo arrives at Anfield after an impressive two seasons playing for Stuttgart in Germany’s Bundesliga league. Over these two seasons, Endo outshone his peers in various key aspects of play, winning more aerial duels, having more clearances and headed clearances, ranking highest for possession won in his position and ranking second for touches tackles and passes; these stats should make Liverpool fans take notice!
Endo is even more remarkable as he serves as captain for one of Europe’s top five leagues – which speaks volumes of his professionalism, leadership and determination. Being an Asian player in such an important leadership position speaks volumes about him!
Why was Endo’s arrival not met with great fanfare? Partly it could be his Asian descent; Asian players often fail to gain recognition within football culture. Had he come from Argentina, Germany, or France instead there would likely have been more of a stir upon hearing of his arrival.
Endo, however, stands out from his competition as an outstanding performer in Germany despite playing for a smaller club. Additionally, he captains Asia’s best national team: Japan; a side capable of giving anyone an exciting football matchup at any given moment; their recent World Cup performances speak volumes to this fact.
Sadly, Asian football still doesn’t always get the respect it deserves. Players like Son Heung-min and Kaoru Mitoma, despite their talents, sometimes struggle to shake off stereotypes. It’s high time we recognize that Asia produces top-quality players.
In some ways, the subdued reaction to Endo’s signing might be a sign of progress. We’ve moved away from the era of expecting shirt sales and new fans with every Asian arrival. However, it’s essential for Asian football to promote itself better. Clubs in Japan and Korea often turn to foreign imports, undervaluing their homegrown talents. Asian fans, media, and broadcasters also need to pay more attention to their own continent.
Wataru Endo might not be a household name in England yet, but neither was Moisés Caicedo until recently. It’s through Premier League performances that reputations are built. Liverpool might have just made a smart move, and Endo could prove to be a better buy than many expect. So, keep an eye on this underrated gem as he aims to shine at Anfield.