Wataru Endo doesn’t suit Liverpool and the clock is already ticking on Premier League career, says Jay Bothroyd

Wataru Endo’s surprise move to Liverpool was a moment of huge excitement for football in Japan, but his first couple of weeks in the Premier League show it’s going to be tough for the former Stuttgart midfielder.

I’m the first person to say that Japanese players are so talented, technically excellent and possess great intelligence. Germany certainly found that out again this weekend!

But I feel like the best players — or certainly those more likely to succeed in the best leagues — are the full-backs, wingers and creative players. They’re good with their feet; they’re nippy.

Centre-backs and central midfielders with defensive responsibilities like Endo have to reckon with the physicality of the Premier League, and that instantly makes it harder to be a success.

There are some exceptions, like Maya Yoshida, who played at centre-back, brought the ball out of defence well and had a good career at Southampton.

Endo had time in the Bundesliga, but it’s still not the Premier League. How many Bundesliga teams do you see play against Premier League teams and get the better of them? There’s only Bayern Munich. The rest of them will get run over because the pace of the Premier League is so high. It’s physically demanding as well. The best players in the world are in the Premier League.

MORE: Why Darwin Nunez is primed to become a star for Liverpool

I look at Liverpool’s midfield, which is high-pressing and goes man-to-man. That can mean frantic end-to-end games. Endo is not blessed with pace. He keeps the ball ticking sideways a lot; he doesn’t have a killer throughball to get lots of assists.

I’m not saying he’s a terrible player — far from it. He’s very tidy. I just don’t think that the Premier League, in particular Liverpool, is for him.

If he were to go to a team that sits deep and protects, where he can make interceptions, then I might be inclined to say he has a good chance. But I don’t see him as anything more than a squad player, especially now they’ve signed Ryan Gravenberch from Bayern Munich. It’s still a great move for Endo, but he was Liverpool’s fifth or sixth choice. They needed a midfielder and he was available for $20 million, which is nothing in this market.

It was an amazing comeback from Jurgen Klopp’s side when they were down to 10 men at Newcastle United. Endo played an hour of that game and said himself that it was tough and he needed to get better. It’s good that he’s holding himself accountable and putting pressure on himself to be better — that’s great. He will improve, but no-one is going to convince me that he will be a first-choice Liverpool central midfielder.

Last weekend, he was back on the bench and a late substitute as Curtis Jones came in alongside Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai for the impressive 3-0 win over Aston Villa. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s incredible passing range was on display in that game and he’s another option to play as the deep-lying midfielder.

Success is there to be had for Japanese players in England — Kaoru Mitoma continues to take the league by storm — but there are never any guarantees.

Shinji Kagawa was a better footballer all-round than Endo and he found it hard to play at Manchester United, who were the best team in England at the time. He was a winger or a No. 10, who didn’t have the defensive responsibility that Endo has.

I’d certainly have liked to see what Daichi Kamada could have done in England as he starts the next chapter of his career at Lazio in Serie A. To be honest, I’d probably take Kamada over Kai Havertz at Arsenal. I think he’s got more pace, he gets lots of assists, he gets into the box and can score goals.

Kamada could succeed somewhere like Arsenal, but it’s a tougher task for players like Endo. Liverpool will probably be back in the market for a midfielder at the end of the season, if not in January, so the clock is already ticking.

Premier League 2023/24 TV channels, live streams

Region TV Streaming
Australia Optus Sport

Fubo Canada

Hong Kong Now TV
India Star Sports Disney+, Hotstar,
Malaysia Astro SuperSport Astro Go
New Zealand Sky Sport Sky Sport Now,
Sky Go
Singapore StarHub StarHub TV+
UK Sky Sports, TNT Sports NOW TV, Sky Go,
Amazon Prime
USA USA Network,
Telemundo, Universo
Fubo, Peacock

UK: Matches are carried across Sky Sports and TNT Sports streaming and TV platforms, with select matches on Amazon Prime.

USA: Select matches are televised on USA Network (English) and Telemundo or Universo (Spanish), and all three channels can be streamed on Fubo. The rest of the matches are streamed on NBC platform Peacock for subscribers.

Canada: Every Premier League game this season is live streamed exclusively via Fubo in Canada.

Australia: Fans in Australia can stream every match live and on demand on Optus Sport.

India: Star Sports network has the rights to show Premier League matches in India. As well as an English broadcast on Star Sports Select, select matches will be available via regional feeds on Star Sports 3 (in Bengali, English, Kannada, Malayalam), Star Sports 1 (Bangla) and Star Sports 1 (Tamil).

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