Georginio Wijnaldum typified the relentless drive and gritty determination Liverpool injected into their performance in Amsterdam as Jurgen Klopp’s team got their Champions League campaign off to a perfect start.
The Dutchman was everywhere against Ajax in midfield upon his reinstatement to the starting XI having been named on the bench during the 2-2 draw with Everton last week.
For the entire 90 minutes, Wijnaldum hounded back possession and even made himself a useful asset in attack. He was unfortunate even not to score after a fantastic ball from Diogo Jota found the run of the 29-year-old only for him to be denied by Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana.
This was no fluke performance from Wijnaldum who looked to prove a point in the capital city of his home country.
Wijnaldum has shown he can be relied upon and trusted in the big games. Liverpool’s efforts to maintain the soon-to-be out-of-contract midfielder could be an inspired call come the end of the season.
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Despite his impressive performances in the big matches and the fact he was utilised more than any other midfielder under Klopp last season, Wijnaldum may have felt as if he were falling down the pecking order at Anfield this season.
All summer, Liverpool’s transfer saga was dominated around one player and someone whose footballing talents would draw comparisons to Wijnaldum’s above any other Reds player.
Thiago Alcantara was chosen above Wijnaldum during Liverpool’s Merseyside derby clash at Goodison Park. The Spaniard put in an inspired performance against the Blues but fell victim to a horror-challenge from Richarlison which subsequently ruled him out for the Ajax match.
Wijnaldum as professional as ever didn’t hesitate to take his chance once called upon back into the first team.
Against Ajax, he completed 45 passes, had three shots, enjoyed 60 touches on the ball and averaged a pass success rate of 91% – which was more than any other player on the pitch according to WhoScored.
Amid the competition for places, Wijnaldum has had to prove himself all over again.
With another strong performance in Amsterdam, he has shown once again what a big asset he can be.
Wijnaldum is not a player who easily catches the eye from an attacking standpoint, although he did have three shots to his name in the win over Ajax.
He is the kind of player who selflessly sacrifices himself to keep his team ticking. While to the outside world, his statistical output would suggest that Liverpool could cope effortlessly in the absence of Wijnaldum, those who have had the pleasure of watching him on a weekly basis over the past four seasons will know that filling such a void is not going to be easy.
His display against Ajax was further evidence of why Liverpool could not afford to lose him in the previous summer window.
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