One such is Liverpool’s pursuit of a new central midfielder, a problem that has stalked Jurgen Klopp since he admitted their need to bolster that department last August. Jude Bellingham’s name has been ʀᴜᴍᴏᴜʀed – as has Moises Caicedo’s – but did Klopp actually let the “perfect midfielder” slip through his fingers in the summer of 2021?
That is when Georginio Wijnaldum’s five-year spell at Liverpool came to end. The Dutchman, 32, left Merseyside once his contract expired to join Paris Saint-Germain, later moving to Roma on loan. Liverpool’s midfield has never been the same since.
Wijnaldum was a stalwart for Liverpool. He was signed from Newcastle as an advanced midfielder in the summer of 2016, but Klopp deployed him in a central role at Anfield.
The Netherlands international went on to play 237 games during the next five years – missing just 11 Premier League fixtures during that time. He was also at the heart of Liverpool’s midfield when they defeated Tottenham in the 2019 Champions League final.
As well as lifting that famous trophy, Wijnaldum also won the Premier League title, European Super Cup and Club World Cup during his spell on Merseyside. The likes of Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Fabinho and Jordan Henderson are credited for those triumphs – but Wijnaldum’s contribution was just as important.
Since Georginio Wijnaldum left the team, Jurgen Klopp’s squad has had a lot of trouble .
And it’s possible that this is overlooked. After all, Liverpool’s performance without Wijnaldum during the previous campaign was not poor. They were victorious in the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup, and they advanced all the way to the Champions League final in Paris, where they were defeated by Real Madrid by a score of 1-0. In addition to this, Klopp’s squad came in second place in the Premier League standings, one point behind the winner, Manchester City.
Wijnaldum, on the other hand, had a difficult time at PSG. Even though he won the Ligue 1 championship with the French giants and played 38 games for them, PSG fans never really warmed up to him as a player. It seems weird in retrospect that Liverpool did not attempt to re-sign him before he moved on to sign with Roma during the summer of last year.
During a news conference in August of 2021, Klopp made it clear how much he values Wijnaldum as a player. He said to the reporters, “Gini was the player who was the most consistently accessible.” I really enjoyed his method of playing, and I could always count on him. However, he is not present any longer.
After Wijnaldum’s transfer to Roma, Klopp made another significant move. In August of the previous year, he declared, “It is not my fault if he goes under the radar. Gini makes his presence known on the field with the way he plays.
“He is the ideal player to play in the middle. He possesses everything that you might possibly require, including both directions, little spaces, big areas, difficult difficulties, and beautiful football. In the locker area, Gini has a friendly and outgoing demeanor. He is not the type of person who readily agrees to everything.
Due to a leg injury that he sustained in August of last year, Wijnaldum’s tenure at Roma has not gone according to plan. That is of no consequence, however, given that if he had returned to Liverpool instead, he would not have been subject to the injury in the first place.
Klopp’s search for a new center midfielder won’t be over in January, and it won’t be an inexpensive endeavor either. However, his past statements regarding Wijnaldum, as well as the impact that the Dutchman made to his team, say eloquently about Liverpool’s failure to keep him on board with the team.
Wijnaldum should have remained with Liverpool throughout his career. But even if Klopp was powerless to prevent him from signing with PSG, he still should have made it a priority to get the “ideal midfielder” back to the club during the summer of 2017. Right now, Liverpool could really benefit from having a player with Wijnaldum’s skill set.