One of Liverpool’s glue guys of a remarkable run in their storied history has, indeed, really left Anfield.
Georginio Wijnaldum was unable to get the contract he wanted from the Reds and instead has signed for
Barcelona PSG . Wait, what? Yep. He’s signed for Paris Saint-Germain, joining Mauricio Pochettino in a move that will surprise plenty of fans.
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Wijnaldum turns 31 in November and joins Les Parisiens on a deal through the 2023-24 season and he leaves Liverpool after a remarkable run of accolades and memorable moments, with Jurgen Klopp heaping emotional praise on the midfielder.
Before I go any further in analysis, this video below the jump… wow. I am not a Liverpool fans and still can’t help but have the tear ducts making threats after watching this video. Granted as a dad, I’ll pretty much cry at a well-done commercial these days, but I digress.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) June 10, 2021
Wijnaldum joined the Premier League when Newcastle signed him from PSV Eindhoven on the heels of three 14-goal seasons in four seasons.
He scored 11 goals with five assists in the Magpies’ relegation season of 2015-16 including four against Norwich City (yes, in one game) Iand two versus Spurs.
He continued the playmaking in Liverpool in 2016-17 (and with the Netherlands pretty much to this day), with six goals and nine assists but Jurgen Klopp found a way to get Wijnaldum accept a more handcuffed offensive role in order to facilitate success.
Wijnaldum may yet see his goals and assists take a leap at PSG, but his traditional career stats will never tell the story of his success at Liverpool. One of the attacking focal points of the Dutch national team, Wijnaldum is a legit threat when given freedom and creativity.
But the sacrifices he made for Klopp and the Reds leading to the end of European Cup and Premier League Trophy droughts, should not be forgotten any time soon.
Klopp, clearly, knows the quality of the man heading to Paris.
Here’s part of a longer statement from Klopp from Liverpool’s web site:
“I will miss the player he is like crazy – highest-quality ability, one of the smartest players I have ever had the privilege to coach. His contribution was off the scale, a manager’s dream.
“But as a person he’ll leave just as big a hole. A more giving individual you could not wish to meet. Gini is very strong and opinionated, but his motivation is only to help the team – always. His teammates adored him and respected him in equal measure. His smile lit up our workplace. He was a huge part of our beating heart.”
Will Pochettino use Wijnaldum as a precision-shooting, final-third dissecting midfielder or use him a bit more like Klopp?
Either way, he’s getting a gem.
At 30, it’s understandable that Klopp and Liverpool don’t want to hand a big contract to Wijnaldum but there may be short-term pains for long-term gains because players of the Dutchman’s showstopping talent rarely accept such limited roles in order to benefit a team.
Wijnaldum was a ball mover and/or shuttler, completing an absurd 92.5 percent of his passes. That ranks in the 99th percentile of mdifielders from Europe’s top competitions, according to the FBRef.com screen grab at right.
He’s not about to get stuck into tackles but he is capable of firing home from distance and navigating the 18-yard-box. If you want to get a feel for how a player like Wijnaldum could function with more attacking freedom and need to look beyond his production with the Netherlands, look to reported Liverpool target Youri Tielemans of Leicester City.
Or… perhaps Klopp is finally ready to hand the keys to a man rumored to go to Leicester in a swap deal: Naby Keita, whose advanced stats say he might already be the player we thought was arriving from RB Leipzig.