Wataru Endo: 5 interesting facts about Liverpool’s 30-year-old Caicedo & Lavia alternative

5 interesting facts about Liverpool new signing Wataru Endo

Wataru Endo: 5 interesting facts about Liverpool’s 30-year-old Caicedo & Lavia alternative

Tunde Young 16:35 - 17.08.2023

Having missed out on their top two midfield targets in Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, Liverpool have now turned their attention to Stuttgart and Japan player Wataru Endo and here are 5 noteworthy things about the 30-year-old.

Liverpool are reportedly on the verge of completing the signing of Wataru Endo from Stuttgart as some much-needed midfield reinforcements.

Jurgen Klopp’s team had some very public disappointment recently in the transfer market with their top two midfield targets opting to go somewhere else.

Liverpool reached a £115 million agreement with Brighton for the signing of Moises Caicedo but the player rejected the move in favour of Chelsea.

To add insult to injury, Romeo Lavia, their other midfield target for whom they had been negotiating with Southampton for weeks is also heading to Chelsea.

This means Klopp still has to fill the gaping midfield hole left by the departures of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho to Saudi Arabia and he has now turned Wataru Endo which in truth is extremely underwhelming considering what could have been.

But what is done is done and here are 5 key pieces of information about Liverpool’s new £16 million midfielder from Japan.

Wataru Endo
Wataru Endo is close to joining Liverpool (IMAGO) Wataru Endo is close to joining Liverpool

5 facts about Wataru Endo

Wataru Endo’s background: Liverpool’s new midfielder was born on February 9, 1993, in Kagoshima, Japan.

His age is a major reason the reports of the transfer were initially met with widespread pessimism as top clubs rarely sign little-known 30-year-olds.

Career so far: Wataru Endo began his football journey in the youth system of Kagoshima United FC, a local club in Japan. His talent quickly caught the attention of scouts, and he eventually moved to the J.League to further his development.

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Endo joined Japanese club Shonan Bellmare in February 2011 and played 167 games for the club, returning 24 goals and seven assists in five years.

He joined another J-League club in 2016 and spent the next three years at Urawa Red Diamonds, playing 109 games and returning six goals and seven assists.

Wataru Endo in action for Urawa Red Diamonds in 2018
Wataru Endo in action for Urawa Red Diamonds in 2018 (IMAGO) Wataru Endo in action for Urawa Red Diamonds in 2018

He finally got his big break in 2018, getting his first European move at 25 years old to Belgian side, Saint Truidense and then caught the attention of Stuttgart who first signed him on loan in 2019 and then paid €1.7 million to sign him permanently in 2020.

Life at Stuttgart: "As a player and as a person, he's simply incredibly valuable," Stuttgart’s former director Sven Mislintat said about Endo in 2021. 

Wataru Endo
Stuttgart goalscorers (from left) Hamadi Al Ghaddioui, Marc-Oliver Kempf and Wataru Endo celebrate the 5-0 thrashing of Greuther Fuerth Stuttgart midfielder Wataru Endo

The Japanese has been a key player in the centre of Stuttgart’s midfield for four years the first of which was in the second division after which the club got promoted and have been in the Bundesliga for the three subsequent seasons.

Endo played 133 times for Stuttgart, returning 15 goals and 12 assists despite playing a deep midfield role and sometimes as a centre-back.

Style of play: Endo is a defensive midfielder who covers ground and is a tough tackler but is also quite good on the ball which puts him in a deep-lying playmaker role.

His arrival would allow Alexis Macallister and Dominik Szoboszlai to venture forward more as Endo would be providing the necessary coverage, breaking up opposition play and recycling possession.

The Japanese midfielder is surprisingly strong aerially for someone who is 5 feet 8 inches tall, winning 2.33 aerial duels per 90 minutes and 2.00 clearances per 90 according to FBRef.

He is also very fit and rarely gets injured which is a big advantage to him and his new club Liverpool as Endo has only missed two games in the last four years.

Samurai Blue: Wataru Endo is a Japanese international and has played 50 games for the Samurai Blue.

He debuted for Japan in August 2015, playing the full game in a 2-1 defeat to North Korea in the East Asian Football Championship.

His first taste of the limelight internationally was at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar where he was outstanding for Japan, playing all four games, starting three of those as they got knocked out in the round of 16, losing via penalty shootouts to Croatia.

Endo was particularly eye-catching in the opening game which was a shocking 2-1 win against Germany.

The 30-year-old has also captained Japan four times, including in the last game, a 4-1 thrashing of Peru in an international friendly game.

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