Welcome to World Class: Georginio Wijnaldum
Liverpool supporters and Jurgen Klopp have a lot to thank for Georginio Wijnaldum’s nan.
The Reds’ 2019/20 title-winning team were a team built on unwavering consistency, as Jurgen Klopp’s side won 26 of their opening 27 Premier League games in a display of unwavering reliability. Winning was all they could do.
Knitting everything together for Liverpool, figure of consistency in a team molded on reliability, the man of the greatest moments, it was Wijnaldum.
The midfielder missed only one Premier League game on his way to the Reds’ record-breaking title triumph – but football was not his first love. It wasn’t even his first sporting passion.
Growing up in the Schiemond district of Rotterdam, an area once famous for delinquency, unemployment and poverty, Wijnaldum had the dream of becoming a gymnast.
However, his grandmother found the sport – backflips and all – too dangerous. He was forced to stop and football became the number one focus. It wasn’t a bad backup plan.
Wijnaldum ended his youth career at Feyenoord Academy, making his senior debut at 16 years and 148 days old. He was still in school and became the youngest player in club history.
“Now my daughter is doing gymnastics and I’m a little jealous of her because she does everything I wanted to do when I was young. “”
– Georginio wijnaldum
He moved to PSV in 2011 on a € 5million contract and was named club captain two years later – at the age of just 22. The following season, he captained PSV in his first Eredivisie title in seven years.
This prompted Newcastle to call and in the summer of 2015 he moved to the North East for £ 14.5million. In the grand scheme of football transfers, this doesn’t seem like a successful signing, but it was the most Mike Ashley had ever spent on a player (costing the equivalent of 14.5 million giant Sports Direct cups) .
Wijnaldum blew hot and cold for Newcastle as he suffered the crash – but finished the club’s top scorer with 11 goals, including one in a player of the match in his side’s 2-0 win over Liverpool in December.
Newcastle’s relegation coincided with Klopp’s first summer in charge of Liverpool as the German’s rebuilding work in Merseyside began. The journey to re-establish the Reds as world batsmen began with the recruiting of Sadio Mane and Wijnaldum. The pair is signed Klopp; individuals with potential who have grown into world-class players.
Wijnaldum’s first campaign at Anfield would be his most prolific in front of goal. The Netherlands international has scored six times in the Premier League, including important goals against Arsenal, Manchester City and the blockade break against Middlesbrough on the final day of the season as the Reds secured their return to the Champions League. He was already establishing himself as the man of great occasions.
The 30-year-old’s scoring stats have declined since moving to Merseyside – he has not hit double the league numbers since leaving Newcastle. He hasn’t recorded an assist in the Premier League since April 2018.
But Wijnaldum’s importance for Liverpool can’t be simplified into stats or YouTube montages (but if they’re important to you, he’s scored eight goals in seven games for the Netherlands in Euro 2020 qualifying. ).
On the one hand, he was deployed in a deeper midfield role by Klopp than he held for the Magpies. And the reason he doesn’t bring in a lot of assists is simply because few Liverpool midfielders do. This is how Liverpool play; midfielders are the pass before the pass.
Liverpool’s adventurous full-backs are the ones responsible for putting the odds on a plate for the Reds’ estimated top three forwards, and they’re allowed to roam due to discipline, athleticism and intelligence. by Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson can move forward as they know Wijnaldum will be there to break his guts and mop up if need be. The Dutchman does it superbly. His distribution, his insurance in possession and his pure football intelligence are discreetly brilliant.
But when he gets a rare moment in the spotlight, when he briefly takes center stage, Wijnaldum keeps it for the most monumental occasions.
The Dutch midfielder has scored five goals in the 2018/19 campaign. 40% of them came within three breathless minutes at Anfield, as Liverpool managed the most remarkable of the Champions League semi-final comebacks.
Launched at halftime with Liverpool leading 3-1 overall at Barcelona, Wijnaldum smashed home from inside the box nine minutes after entering the fray, before jumping like a salmon 122 seconds later and to plant a head in front of Marc-André ter Stegen. The Reds were going to beat Barcelona, then Tottenham, to lift the Champions League.
The following season was the Premier League – galloping. Klopp’s side demonstrated just how big the gap is between them and the rest of the top flight in November’s 3-1 win over Manchester City – the team that brought them to the title the previous season. Wijnaldum was exceptional.
The city midfielder was completely overwhelmed as he harassed, pressured and pressed himself. His bonding game was exquisite and he effortlessly sent cross-field passes as Liverpool highlighted their credentials for the title.
Klopp demands so much from his midfielder – the endurance, pace of work and energy required are out of this world. Still, no player has played for Liverpool since Wijnaldum joined the club in 2016 – 207 and more appearances. A gigantic effort. A figure of consistency in one of the greatest teams to honor the Premier League which comes to life on the greatest occasions.
The defeat in gymnastics was a gain for football. Hi, no.