Liverpool must prepare for a future without Gini Wijnaldum
The winding down of the 2020-21 season means that Liverpool fans are facing up to the reality that Georginio Wijnaldum is unlikely to be staying at Liverpool beyond this summer. The Dutchman has failed to negotiate a new contract at Anfield, with Liverpool reluctant to give the 30-year-old the kind of bumper deal he is looking for. Rumours of a move to Barcelona have been circulating all season, and so it seems that the much-loved midfielder will be parting ways with the club he enjoyed so much success with over the last few years.
Despite the apparent contract stand-off between player and club, Wijnaldum has still been one of Liverpool’s ever presents this season, having appeared in every Premier League match, either in the starting eleven or as a substitute. Manager Jürgen Klopp still values his contribution to the team, hence why he has featured so regularly, and you can bet that the German would dearly love to see Wijnaldum stick around.
After all, the Dutch international has been a hugely important player for Liverpool throughout their success of the past few seasons. Operating in the ‘number six’ role, Wijnaldum has a unique ability to dictate tempo from midfield, recycling possession effectively and creating a platform on which Liverpool’s talented attackers can build. He’s never been much of a goalscorer for the team, but he has chipped in with the odd strike, most notably his brace in the 4-0 win over Barcelona in 2019, which sent Liverpool through to the Champions League final.
Those goals alone would be enough to make himself a hero in the eyes of Liverpool supporters, but it’s fair to say that Wijnaldum has hardly put a foot wrong in his five seasons at Anfield. He might not be the flashiest of midfielders, but his sturdy performances in the middle of the park are one of the main reasons Liverpool made themselves such reliable picks in the bet exchange, and lifted all those trophies.
It’s fair to say that Wijnaldum’s performances this season have not quite been of the same standard as in prior campaigns, but that is understandable. After all, it’s been a season of sub-par performances from Liverpool’s entire squad, and it would be unfair to single out Wijnaldum as someone who hasn’t reached the expected heights. When you add the fact that his contract situation has no-doubt caused him some distractions, then it’s easy to see why he hasn’t made as much of an impact.
But what makes Wijnaldum such a reliable player is that, even when he’s not right at the top of the game, his performances rarely dip to a level that makes him ineffective. He has been one of Liverpool’s most consistent performers over the last few seasons, and deserves to be remembered alongside Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and the rest of the team that brought the glory days back to Anfield.
It will be interesting to see whether Klopp dips into the transfer market to find a like-for-like replacement, or if he feels that someone like Curtis Jones is ready to make the step up. Either way, Liverpool will struggle to find a suitable replacement for someone as reliable and trustworthy as Wijnaldum. It’ll be sad to see him go, but all Liverpool’s supporters can do is reflect on the fine work he has done for the club since he joined five years ago.
Story by Simon Cromie