Wataru Endo wasn't greeted with the same fanfare as Liverpool's other midfield signings this summer.
Having just seen attempts to bring Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia to Anfield fail dramatically, Endo's arrival from Stuttgart was met with pessimism from some Liverpool supporters.
However, despite having not started regularly for the Reds, in the Premier League at least, Endo's impact is starting to be felt on Merseyside.
Liverpool's only out-and-out central defensive midfielder - other than the injured Stefan Bajcetic - the Japan international has been tasked with filling the shoes of Fabinho when coming into the team this term.
Not only has Endo netted two goals from deep positions, including a crucial late equaliser against Fulham that kickstarted a dramatic late comeback, but the 30-year-old has also shone performing his primary defensive duties.
Liverpool's No. 3 put in another impressive display against Sheffield United on Wednesday in a rare Premier League start, helping the Reds to three points and a clean sheet at Bramall Lane.
And one particular statistic, courtesy of journalist Bence Bocsak, highlights just how significant Endo has been when on the pitch this season.
Out of midfielders to have played more than 350 minutes in the Premier League this campaign, Endo has averaged the most interceptions per 90 (6.92).
📊 This season out of midfielders in the Premier League, Wataru Endō has averaged the most interceptions per 90 (6.92).
Midfielders must have played at least 350 minutes.
Endō has 390 minutes so far, which is a small sample size but it’s still quite an impressive output. pic.twitter.com/qUsS32KKP0
— Bence Bocsák (@BenBocsak) December 8, 2023
While Endo has only played 390 minutes, which Boscak rightfully points out is a small sample size, it indicates that Endo has been incredibly useful in hoovering up possession and regaining control of the ball for the Reds.
However, Endo has also shown his technical prowess, not only in his lovely strike against Fulham, but in his general passing and build-up play.
With Alexis Mac Allister, who has been Liverpool's primary defensive midfielder in the Premier League so far, suffering an injury against Sheffield United, Endo is likely to start again this weekend against Crystal Palace.
The midfielder will be expected to perform to the same standard he did against the Blades at Selhurst Park, hopefully helping the Reds to another shutout in London.