Damon Savenelli analyses Georginio Wijnaldum’s role in Liverpool’s starting XI, with the Dutchman becoming increasingly important on Merseyside.
When Liverpool first agreed the transfer of Georginio Wijnaldum back in mid-July, there was some speculation around the transfer. After Newcastle United’s horrific display the season before, most players in that Newcastle side were perceived as lazy.
Most of the Newcastle players had given up on their season and it was noticeable to any football fan. This had many Liverpool fans, as well as myself, not wanting anything to do with Newcastle players.
When news first broke that Klopp was interested in Wijnaldum I was doubtful. Many Newcastle fans had credited Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum with Newcastle’s complete capitulation. Most fans hated Wijnaldum’s horrid goal record in away games and was labelled as lazy.
Having not watched many Newcastle United games the season before, I was judging Wijnaldum off of these accusations. So when the Dutchman arrived at Anfield for a fee of around £25 million, I was a bit pessimistic.
Eight months later and Wijnaldum is now one of my favourite players. Thankfully, he proved me, as well as a lot of other fans, wrong. With five goals and four assists, Wijnaldum has proved to be exactly what our midfield needed.
Last season the Liverpool midfield was very disappointing in terms of goal contribution. This season has been much different. Lallana and Wijnaldum have 12 goals and 11 assists between the two of them. Not too shabby for two midfielders.
Wijnaldum seems to posses a natural scorer’s instinct. Every time a ball is played into the box, the midfielder is always somewhere near it. This has allowed the former PSV man to score some crucial goals for his side, including goals against Manchester City and Arsenal.
While Wijnaldum’s finishing was poor and rightly criticised at the beginning of the season, he has really seemed to have wroked on it. With injuries and certain players out of form recently, Wijnadum has really stepped up and it is a joy to see.
While Emre Can and Jordan Henderson each offer something of their own, Wijnaldum, as well, as Lallana offer something completely different. Lallana usually plays the role of a box to box midfielder. The Englishman’s work rate is immense and everybody knows it. Wijnaldum also possesses that work rate which makes the duo a pretty deadly midfield pairing.
The two of them seem to hunt as a pair. If you were to keep your eye on either Wijnaldum or Lallana for just a minute, you would see how hard they really work. Having such hard working midfielders is not only a joy to watch, but it also lifts the burden off of the back line.
While they work hard in defence, Wijnaldum and Lallana also do their fair share as creators as well. While Mané, Firmino, and Coutinho get most of the glory, Wijnaldum, as well as Lallana, are the ones pulling the strings.
Although Wijnaldum got off to a bit of a slow start, his work rate, passion, and goal scoring ability have been vital for Liverpool in the last few weeks. During a patch of really poor form as a club, Wijnaldum was able to provide some crucial moments for his side.
Let us hope this is a sign of things to come from the 26-year-old. I am sure that I can speak for many fans when saying that Wijnaldum has quickly grown into a fan favourite. I mean come on, who can hate that smile.