Reds midfielder gives timely reminder of his talents amid Joao Neves speculation

Amid the background of speculation of his Liverpool future, Wataru Endo delivered a timely reminder to both fans and incoming head coach Arne Slot of his value with a near flawless showing on international duty.

The Japan midfielder played a pivotal role in his country's 5-0 victory over Syria on Tuesday in the FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers.

Endo's performance was marked by 77 touches, a passing accuracy of 93%, nine recoveries and a 100% success rate in his tackles.

In fact, his efforts have been instrumental in Japan’s flawless qualification campaign, boasting six wins, 24 goals scored and no goals conceded.

Endo replacement talk

Endo's stellar display for his country comes amid the backdrop of the appointment of Arne Slot as his new coach at club level.

While his predecessor Jurgen Klopp was always quick to sing the praises of the 31-year-old who signed from Stuttgart for approximately £16 million last summer, speculation has been rife about the club seeking an upgrade this summer.

Klopp's final season saw Liverpool finish third in the Premier League, a marked improvement from the previous season’s fifth-place finish.

That resurgence could be attributed in part to the so-called midfield overhaul, which saw Endo recruited towards the end of the summer window.

However, Endo only came in after Liverpool failed to secure Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, both of whom went to Chelsea, and the Japan captain was considered more of a stop-gap option.

Joao Neves, a reported Liverpool target

Despite Endo's reliable performances, Liverpool have been linked with several holding midfielders to potentially replace him, including Benfica's Joao Neves.

Neves has emerged this season as one of the most promising young midfielders in football. Despite being just 19, he is already a regular starter for both his club and the national team.

Known for his tough tackling and excellent ball-handling skills, Neves has drawn attention from top clubs, including Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal.

Joao Neves, reported Liverpool target.

Lisbon, Portugal, April 02 2024: Joao Neves 87 SL Benfica during the Taca de Portugal game between SL Benfica and Sporting CP at Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, Portugal. Pedro Porru / SPP PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxBRAxMEX Copyright: xPedroxPorrux/xSPPx spp-en-PePoSp-4F8A8696

Liverpool's interest in Neves dates back to last summer, and recent reports suggest that the interest remains strong. However, signing Neves will not come cheap. Benfica are reportedly demanding the full release clause for the young star, which is around £102 million.

Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano confirmed Benfica's stance on the transfer fee, noting that the Portuguese giants are in no rush to sell their prized asset for less, with Manchester United reportedly having a £51 million bid rejected.

Seemingly endorsing his club's interest, Liverpool striker Diogo Jota described Neves as a "quality" player with the potential to go far.

Speaking in a recent TikTok interview with Goal, when asked to name one young player ‘everyone should watch out for’, Jota showed no hesitation.

"Joao Neves has the quality and the mindset to go really far," he said.

However, Endo will be keen to show it's too early to write him off just yet.

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