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Wataru Endo admits adapting to Premier League ‘harder than I thought’

Liverpool midfielder Wataru Endo admits he has found the Premier League more difficult than he thought (Peter Byrne/PA)
Liverpool midfielder Wataru Endo admits he has found the Premier League more difficult than he thought (Peter Byrne/PA)

Liverpool summer signing Wataru Endo has found the Premier League more difficult than he expected but is confident he can improve and contribute more.

The 30-year-old Japan international, a £12million arrival from Stuttgart, was viewed as something of a stop-gap solution to the club’s lack of defensive midfielders following Fabinho’s unexpected departure to Saudi Arabia.

Of his 15 appearances so far, only two have been Premier League starts (against Newcastle and Brentford), with manager Jurgen Klopp preferring to utilise Argentina World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister in an unfamiliar holding role.

Endo has gained most of his game time in the Europa League and Carabao Cup and his late arrival – he was signed in mid-August – did not help his integration.

“Yes, it’s harder than I thought, but I’m very happy to be here,” he said when asked about his experience of the Premier League so far.

“Physically, it’s speedy, so it’s very hard to adapt but it’s the Premier League and I keep trying and keep playing and I’ll get better.

“I’m already 30 years old but I feel I have a chance to grow as a football player so I’m so happy to be here and I can improve.

“After I got here I had a talk with the boss about how Liverpool play. After that I just try to do that and he talks a lot with me about it.

“Every time I try to help Liverpool play and of course I always watch what they do from the bench. I think it is an important thing and I am getting better and better.”

Endo’s start to life at Anfield was not helped by the fact as the only holding midfielder there was a lot of attention on him to slot straight into the side and perform a similar role to the one that 30-year-old Fabinho did for five years.

In addition, Liverpool’s midfield underwent a complete overhaul in the summer with Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and Ryan Gravenberch now looking like the established first choices.

But with nine matches to come this month, Endo is likely to get more opportunities.

“I’m always ready to play every game, that’s the most important thing. We need all the players so I try to be ready every game and try to win every game,” he added.

Liverpool’s Wataru Endo on the bench
A packed December should offer Endo more opportunities for game time (Peter Byrne/PA)

“Liverpool has a very winning mentality so we always need to win, need to get three points, and it’s a very difficult thing but that’s why I came here. I’m enjoying the pressure.

“I’m a defensive midfielder so I have to make a difference in defence but also to take up good positions and play good football. I’m enjoying playing with amazing players.”