How can Georginio Wijnaldum prove his worth to Liverpool?
After a big money £25 million move from relegated Newcastle, who bought him for around half that amount, Georginio Wijnaldum still has a lot to do to prove to Liverpool that his large fee was worth it. After disappointing performances against Spurs and Burnley, the Dutchman is beginning to look like a faulty cog in Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool machine.
Of course, the player has no role in deciding the fee that another club pays for him, but £25 million for a player who played fairly poorly in a relegated side was a risk Liverpool were happy to make. From this perspective, the move made even less sense than their purchase of Christian Benteke, who almost single-handedly kept Aston Villa up in his time there.
However, Wijnaldum was a standout performer the previous season for PSV Eindhoven in the Eredivisie, scoring 14 times in 32 starts – and all from midfield. Nonetheless, his inabilty to replicate that form in the much more physical Premier League will doubtless worry Liverpool fans, not least because there appears to be better value for money elsewhere.
For example, in the slightly more defensive minded midfield role that Wijnaldum has occupied in Klopp’s 4-2-3-1, playing in the ‘2’ alongside Jordan Henderson, Arsenal have brought in the younger; but also more established, Granit Xhaka, while their rivals Spurs secured Eric Dier for just under £5 million. Wijnaldum is not a specialist defensive midfielder, but nor will he secure a regular first team place in front of the enigmatic Philipe Coutinho or the impressive Sadio Mane, and there arises the problem.
For a fee of £25 million, fans expect a first team regular, not a bit-part player, and playing the more unnatural position of defensive midfield may see Wijnaldum limited to weaker performances or lack of game time at all. Either of these would then question whether he was worth the fee.
Having said all this, Wijnaldum is only 25 years of age. His best years are in the immediate future, and he is playing under one of the best managers in current world football. Klopp’s dynamic pressing game plays to Wijnaldum’s strengths – he is a mobile, athletic midfielder, and one who is also technically gifted. If he gets a chance to play further forward, then there is every possibility that the Dutchman will impress, especially in wide positions given his agility and strength.
Ultimately, as a natural attacking midfielder, he should be judged on his goal and assist return; yet playing a more defensive role in a side frought with frailties at the back is likely to mean his potential is restricted. However, should Wijnaldum recreate the form he showed in the Eredivisie, then Liverpool have their hands on a modern day rarity – a true goal-scoring threat from midfield.
Such an asset would be invaluable to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side, especially with the German leaving his established striker, Daniel Sturridge, on the bench for league games.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Anfield BR
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