The Telegraph reports that Georginio Wijnaldum has given Liverpool hope of staying at Anfield beyond the summer when his contract expires.
The Dutchman is still pondering his future, Anfield Central can confirm, but it’s unclear what will happen as the clock ticks on his deal with the Reds. Transfermarkt value him at £31.5m but the Reds will get nothing if he leaves upon the expiry of his contract.
Barcelona and Inter Milan have made pre-contract offers to the former Newcastle United star, according to our sources. After he said that he would be ‘devastated‘ by leaving the club, it seems as though he has his heart set on remaining at Anfield.
The question that now needs to be answered is: what does Jurgen Klopp do with him and should his role in the starting XI change at all?
The uncertainty over his future coincides with Naby Keita’s troubled time on Merseyside, with the Guinean subject to interest from several clubs across Europe, including his former side RB Leipzig.
What does Wijnaldum currently do in the starting XI?
Wijnaldum has excelled in a very passive no.8 role with Jurgen Klopp instructing him to value ball retention over risky forward passes or runs into the box. This is to help provide cover for Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, who are the Reds’ most creative players.
Wijnaldum would dovetail with Jordan Henderson as they looked to allow their fullbacks to bomb forward and support Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, while Roberto Firmino dropped deep to support them centrally.
This meant, at times, that Salah and Mane were playing as very wide strikers while Firmino was a no.10 and Trent and Robbo were the side’s wingers. In turn, this saw Wijnaldum and Hendo serving as auxiliary fullbacks and Fabinho would remain as the no.6 and would protect the centre-backs from any developing moves.
Now, however, with captain Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all injured, Klopp’s tactics have been massacred. The damage this has had has been most evident in games against stronger sides and even the likes of Everton and Aston Villa.
What changes should be made to Wijnaldum’s role in the side?
For rival fans, it’s confusing to understand why Wijnaldum turns into one of the best attacking midfielders in the world when he goes away on international duty and the simple answer is that he has an entirely different role when he’s with the Netherlands.
This should give Klopp a blueprint for how Wijnaldum should operate now and for the rest of the season.
By giving him the freedom to bomb forward, Klopp’s fullbacks won’t need to get forward every chance they get which will, in turn, provide Ozan Kabak and Nathaniel Phillips more protection.
The return of Fabinho to central midfield has made a major difference for Liverpool and has seen them win their last three Premier League games in a row and has also seen the shocking home run of form brought to an end.
Wijnaldum was a fantastic attacking box to box midfielder for Newcastle United and has been so consistent in the role for Holland so it’s actually a surprise he’s never been used there regularly by Klopp.
Especially when you consider his most famous game in that role saw him dismantle Barca’s Champions League semi-final hopes with a brace at Anfield as the Reds beat the Catalonians 4-0.