Why Liverpool need to offer Gini Wijnaldum a new contract NOW!

In what has been an injury-hit season for Liverpool, Gini Wijnaldum has remained a constant presence in the reigning champions’ side. With his contract set to expire in the summer of 2021, we take a look at why the Reds need to tie the Dutchman down to a new deal.

Early life at Anfield

When Georginio Wijnaldum first arrived at Liverpool in 2016 many fans and pundits were indifferent to his arrival. Eleven goals in his maiden Premier League season for a Newcastle side that were relegated to the Championship was impressive on the face of it but was he really going to be the man to take the Reds to the next level?

At the time Jurgen Klopp was beginning to rebuild the team and Wijnaldum arrived at Anfield in the same summer as Sadio Mane and Joel Matip. Many questioned the logic and the transfer fee behind Wijnaldum’s purchase. At St. James’ Park the midfielder, who’s affectionately known as Gini, was often deployed as a winger and Reds’ fans wondered whether he would get into the team ahead of new signing Mane as well as the likes of Coutinho, Firmino and Adam Lallana.

But as has often been the case over the last five years, Klopp had an ingenious plan. Recognising Wijnaldum’s sensational work ethic, stamina and composed nature on the ball the manager decided that Gini would make the perfect central midfielder for his gegenpressing system.

This proved to be the case and Wijnaldum has gone on to become a vital cog in the Liverpool system that has dominated England and Europe over the last two years.

Much like the role of Roberto Firmino in the front three, Wijnaldum’s impact is perhaps more noticeable when he is not in the team. Without Gini Liverpool lose energy and a spark in the midfield and it often results in Andy Robertson being less effective on the left.

Wijnaldum scoring agaisnt Barcelona
Georginio Wijnaldum celebrates after scoring against Barcelona in the Champions League. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY GETTY IMAGES VIA MEDIA REFEREE.

Making Liverpool tick

In 2019/20 Wijnaldum missed just one league game as Liverpool romped to their 19th league title and it is easy to see why.

It’s no secret that much of Liverpool’s attacking play comes from wide positions with the team often making use of the exceptional crossing abilities of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.

Robertson, in particular, is much more effective when Wijnaldum is on the pitch. Gini’s starting position is often deeper for Liverpool than it is for the Netherlands, hence why his goal and assist tally for the national team is significantly higher than it is for his club.

But, Wijnaldum’s functional positioning allows Robertson to take up a much higher starting position. Therefore when Robertson makes those lung-bursting runs forward to join Mané it is vital that Wijnaldum covers the left-hand side of the pitch.

Klopp operates a high-risk high-reward philosophy meaning if Liverpool is caught out of position high up the pitch they are at risk on the counter. Wijnaldum’s defensive positioning is probably his most important in any given game and when teams do have an opportunity for a counter-attack his flawless positioning regularly prevents the opposition from progressing quickly up the pitch allowing the Reds to get back into position.

Liverpool has a plethora of talent in the midfield and skipper Jordan Henderson operates a similar role on the right-hand side for Trent Alexander-Arnold. But there aren’t many midfielders who can do this particular job as well as Gini. He isn’t a defensive midfielder, a shuttle or a number 10. He is a combination of all the midfield roles something that is a rarity in football. If you have a player like that in your team you’ll do well to keep hold of him because there aren’t many in world football who can replicate this role as effectively as Wijnaldum.

Wijnaldum for the Dutch national team
Wijnaldum has a different role for the Dutch national team, where the Liverpool midfielder is one of his best players in an attacking midfield role. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY THE 4TH OFFICIAL.

Wijnaldum in 2020

In the summer, it looked like negotiations were going well between Liverpool and Wijnaldum and Liverpool. But for one reason or another, these talks seem to have stalled in the last few months.

Some suggest it is down to contract length, others have speculated he may fancy a new challenge at his stage of career. Whatever the case Klopp has clearly stated his desire to keep Wijnaldum at the club. If the manager wants Wijnaldum to sign a new contract then you’d expect the club to do whatever it takes to tie him down, especially with the likes of Barcelona supposedly sniffing around.

With the arrival of Thiago from Bayern Munich this summer many fans wondered whether Wijnaldum’s game time would be restricted. But due to Liverpool’s ever-growing injury list and highly congested schedule, he has remained a regular on the teamsheet.

In fact, in the last month, Wijnaldum has featured ten times for club and country demonstrating just how integral he is for both sides. The recent match against Wolves where Liverpool ran out 4-0 winners was a vintage Wijnaldum performance.

As well as playing a key role in keeping Adama Traore quiet he also smashed in Liverpool’s second goal showing in one match just how effective he can be at both ends of the pitch.

Liverpool need to do whatever it takes to keep Wijnaldum at the club. While rival fans may not be able to understand his importance, Klopp knows his role is invaluable to Liverpool’s entire philosophy and replacing him would be an incredibly difficult task.

Already a bona fide Liverpool legend, let’s hope we still have many more years of Gini Wijnaldum in a Liverpool shirt.

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