Why now is the time to release Gini Wijnaldum

Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum is set to leave the club this year, with his contract due to expire in the summer.

The Dutch midfielder has been an almost ever-present for Jurgen Klopp’s team ever since he arrived in 2016. He has been crucial to the side being crowned champions of England, Europe and the world.

Wijnaldum impressed during his one season at Newcastle in 2015/16 as an attacking midfielder. He scored 11 goals and got five assists, including scoring four in one game against Norwich City.

He impressed enough to encourage Jurgen Klopp to sign him for almost £25m.

However, Klopp has never used Wijnaldum in this attacking No 10 role at Anfield. Instead, he has played as a hard-working No 8 in a 4-3-3.

Wijnaldum is the definition of a system player. He knows his job is to stay deep and let the fullbacks push higher up the pitch. He has to cover lots of ground and stop potential counter-attacks at the source.

While his stats don’t show it, Wijnaldum is crucial to the system. His football knowledge is vital to making the side tick and Klopp knows that he can rely on him to give a 7/10 performance every time he plays.

At the current moment in time, Liverpool are going through a horrendous run of form. As we all know, the wins and goals have completely dried up in the last month.

The management team must do something quickly to stop the rot.

Owners FSG are very reluctant to spend in the last few days of the January transfer window, which is a story in itself. So Klopp and his staff must work with what they have got and find a solution from within.

Perhaps that solution is using Wijnaldum in the position where he can be most effective – the No 10.

Wijnaldum has proven that he can do it

Wijnaldum has been in fine goalscoring form for his country recently. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY GEORGINIO WIJNALDUM (TWITTER).

The main reason for this idea is that Wijnaldum has proven that he is more than capable of doing it.

Playing as the attacking midfielder for Holland, Wijnaldum has scored 11 goals in competitive games since the beginning of 2019. That is 11 goals in 15 games, a phenomenal record for a midfielder.

He is afforded the freedom to break into the box knowing that he has the security of Frenkie De Jong and Marten de Roon behind him. When he does get these opportunities, he often makes the most of them.

He is rarely allowed to do this for Liverpool but has shown on a few occasions that he is capable of doing so.

The 30-year-old scored two famous goals against Barcelona in the 2019 Champions League semi-final by making late runs into the box. He was allowed to do so because of how badly Liverpool needed to score.

It is clear that he is not usually allowed to break into the box when playing in a red shirt. He only averages 1.65 touches in the opposition penalty area per 90 for Liverpool this season. For context, Bruno Fernandes, who plays a similar role to the one we are highlighting for Wijnaldum, averages 3.33 per 90.

Even if it would mean that Wijnaldum’s defensive game is somewhat compromised, it certainly wouldn’t be completely eradicated. He would still get back while the team is defending as he has the stamina to do so.

He would also be in a better position to stop counter-attacks if he was more central. Wijnaldum could charge down defenders and deep midfielders before they get the chance to play long passes.

Gives Thiago more freedom

A move to 4-2-3-1 would also help Mo Salah and Thiago have more of an influence on the game. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY LIVERPOOL FC.

Playing Wijnaldum as a No 10 would also suit the rest of the team.

Thiago would be playing in the role that he was at his best for Bayern – a double pivot. Instead of being the deepest midfielder at all times, he would share the duty with his partner.

This would mean that he is more involved in the game when Liverpool are trying to break down a low block. The Spaniard hasn’t been able to have as big an effect on his last two games due to his deep positioning.

Jordan Henderson would fill the Joshua Kimmich role beside him. It would resemble the partnership that helped Bayern win the treble last season.

The best finisher at the club, Mo Salah would then be moved to the No 9 role, as he always does when Liverpool try a 4-2-3-1. Playing more centrally will allow him to get more chances. It also means that he doesn’t have too much time to think when on the ball, as Salah is at his best when playing instinctively.

Diogo Jota will be back in action soon, so he and Sadio Mane can play on the wings. Until then, Xherdan Shaqiri, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino can play wide right.

This does mean that Roberto Firmino is left out of the side. The Brazilian did look back to his best against Manchester United, but his form before then has been very worrying.

A break would do him no harm, but he actually wouldn’t be a bad option off the wing for the time being.

With Wijnaldum in the last few months of his Liverpool career, he deserves the opportunity to play his favoured role.

At this stage, Jurgen Klopp has nothing to lose by trying.


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