Liverpool have fended off competition from Manchester United to agree a January deal in principle with Red Bull Salzburg for Takumi Minamino, who has a paltry release clause of just £7.25million.

Christoph Freund, sporting director of the Austrian champions, told The Independent this week that the 24-year-old is ready to accelerate his development at one of Europe’s elite clubs after five years of service. 

Liverpool’s excellent off-field relationship with Salzburg – their new £50million training base was inspired by their Champions League group opponents – has helped them push past a queue of interest in Minamino, which includes United and several Bundesliga sides.

The player himself had originally expected his next destination to be Germany’s top-tier and given his modest nature, was said to be taken aback that the Premier League leaders were heavily pursuing him.

“He is an outstanding player with an outstanding personality,” Freund told The Independent. “The big clubs have been watching him and if I was them, I’d have no hesitation to sign him. Takumi is ready to make the next step in January.”