Opinion

Gini Wijnaldum’s Versatility and Importance

Since Gini Wijnaldum signed for Liverpool from Newcastle United for a fee of £25 million in 2016, he’s shown his importance for both club and country. Indeed, the versatile Dutchman has had this effect throughout his career so far and has had a major impact at all his previous clubs.

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BRIEF HISTORY

He started at his hometown club Sparta Rotterdam, but then he left them to sign for Feyenoord – another hometown club. He came through the Feyenoord youth setup before going on to play for PSV Eidenhoven and then Newcastle United. He finally made his move to Liverpool in 2016. He’s a former Eredivisie Player of the Year and Netherlands Player of the Year. Wijnaldum won both of these awards in 2015, the season before he joined Newcastle. During his time in his homeland, he won the Eredivisie in 2014/15 and the Dutch Cup in 2012/13 with PSV, and he also won the Dutch Cup with his boyhood club Feyenoord in 2007/08.

IMPORTANCE AT LIVERPOOL

Gini’s played 108 for the Reds in total so far, scoring nine goals, eight of which have been in the Premier League. Though he’s been on the score sheet only once this season, it was a fantastic header in the 2-1 victory against Spurs at Wembley, and his first ever away goal in England. He also scored an important one against Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in the Champions League semi final last season, helping the Reds to Kiev. The 28-year-old has become a fan-favourite on Merseyside which has led to the “Du Du Du Gini Wijnaldum” song being sung regularly on the Kop.

His lack of goals this season is partly due to a new position that he’s played in Liverpool’s terrific start to the season. Usually, for Klopp’s side, he’s deployed as the box-to-box midfielder of the three. However, this year he’s also been deployed by the manager as a defensive midfielder. Gini has arguably been one of the Reds’ best players this season being rotated in the defensive and box-to-box midfielder roles, and having a big impact in keeping the Reds strong at the back in the new improved defence. He also has a big role in transitioning the play from defence to attack.

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IMPORTANCE FOR COUNTRY

The Rotterdam-born central midfielder has played an impressive 52 times for the Netherlands in his career so far. In that time, he’s scored 10 goals for his national side. Wijnaldum’s international debut came at the age of 20, against San Marino in an emphatic 11-0 win. He also bagged his first international goal in that match, and at the time, he was being talked about as one of the next best talents to come out of the Netherlands.

In the newly established UEFA Nations League, Netherlands have impressed so far. In recent years, the Dutch side has been out of favour and looked a distant memory from the side who made the 2010 World Cup final and the side who finished 3rd at the 2014 World Cup.

Their newly found form makes it look as though the Netherlands are back fighting in international football and Wijnaldum has been an integral part of it. Gini  has scored two goals in three games in the UEFA international competition. These two goals came in impressive wins against world champions France (2-0) and former world champions Germany (3-0) who have now been relegated from their group. He’s also managed 92% pass accuracy, one of the best figures in the competition.

WIJNALDUM’S VERSATILITY

Wijnaldum has shown his versatility at Liverpool being able to play in all three midfield positions, and has done all to a high standard. However, he’s also shown even greater versatility across his career whether this is at international level, a former club or even at youth level. Here is a list of the positions he’s played throughout his career:

  • Striker- Sparta Rotterdam
  • Left midfielder- Feyenoord
  • Right midfielder- Feyenoord and PSV
  • Attacking midfielder- Liverpool, PSV, Feyenoord and The Netherlands
  • Central midfielder- Liverpool, PSV, Feyenoord and The Netherlands
  • Defensive midfielder- Liverpool and The Netherlands
  • Left Back- Liverpool
  • Centre back- Feyenoord
  • Right back- Sparta Rotterdam and The Netherlands

As found by Dutch news site AD.nl, Wijnaldum has played in every outfield position on the pitch throughout his career. This an incredible piece of stat for a player, showing that he could do a job for his side just about wherever he’s put on the pitch. However, he’s recently said in an interview he wants to stay as a central midfielder and has opened up on the fact he’s had to beg managers to keep him as a midfielder in the past. Gini’s days as a utility player for his sides look over as he’s been impressing as a central midfielder for the Reds since 2016.

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