Many have been critical of Georginio Wijnaldum’s ability in the past; many still, despite his obvious credentials, are. But, as one criticism arrives, a resounding performance from the Dutchman soon follows to silence even the loudest of bellowers.
Last night’s game, and international break, in its entirety, should have only enhanced the midfielder’s reputation as one of the most talented, yet so under-appreciated, all-round midfielder’s in the world.
Wijnaldum’s Adaptability is Proving World-Class Status
From Quitely Mopping up at Liverpool to Dutch Centre Stage
At Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp, a goalscoring threat can be as easily located as a recent piece of silverware. Whether it be Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, though, admittedly, on the more odd occasion these days, the Liverpool attacking presence is as fearsome as ever.
Ask many for an answer to the Liverpool heroics and those three names, undoubtedly among others, will pop up. But, when taking a deeper dive within the Liverpool ranks, you begin to realise that it is those in the background who deserve a fair share of the credit.
Whether it be Jordan Henderson, Fabinho or, in fact, Gini Wijnaldum, take a closer look, perhaps behind the scenes of the five-star spectacle often placed before our eyes at Anfield, and you will begin to take notice of those mopping up the messes and the completing of the backstage work taking place to propel the spotlight onto the current champions.
Wijnaldum so often, so consistently, provides the quiet key in midfield for Liverpool, extinguishing fires before smoke can even arise. Just recently, in arguably one of the most important dates in the Premier League season, Klopp entrusted the combination of Wijnaldum and Henderson in a midfield pairing to silence the often too hot to handle presence of the Manchester City midfield.
The pair, even in the absence of the usual 4-3-3 formation, worked collectively as a defensive unit to take the Reds to what could prove to be a crucial point. The double-pivot of the two allowed the Liverpool shape to remain compact with Wijnaldum shutting down the half-spaces whilst Henderson shuffled across, preventing the so often so prevalent dangers of a defence-splitting pass by Kevin De Bruyne.
The tactic, perhaps safe from Klopp, provided the Reds with a key platform for a well-earned point at the Etihad and many have found a newfound appreciation for the double pivot of Henderson and Wijnaldum’s defensive work in midfield.
But Wijnaldum isn’t always the one with a mop in hand with defensive spills to clean. For the Netherlands, we see a different side to his game; a more excitable one; one that finally highlights his adaptability; a role which sees him so gleefully take to the spotlight, and one that gives us yet more appreciation for the Liverpool man.
Heroics in Different Dutch Role
As previously mentioned, we often see Wijnaldum enter the deeper role in midfield with relative ease and no complaints. But, everyone enjoys a goal; every player wants that spotlight at some point to be glistening onto their celebratory reaction of becoming a sudden goalscorer.
And, whilst away from Merseyside, that light has been glistening onto the heroics of the Reds midfielder. He has become the unexpected Dutch talisman with a golden boot he was last seen similarly wearing during his time at Newcastle. Yet, the shoe still fits perfectly for the midfielder to arrive, and shine, at the ball of the UEFA Nations League for the Netherlands.
Once the famous Red colours of Liverpool are swapped for the Orange tint of the Dutch, the cleaning duties follow the same trend, replaced with the opportunity to become the main man; a chance he has grasped hold of and does not look like letting go of.
In his last 20 appearances alone, Wijnaldum’s netted 13 goals from midfield- the same amount in which Harry Kane has mustered in his last 20 for England. In the more expressive role for his country, the midfielder has looked more offensively capable than ever, whilst still maintaining the all-important defensive, more disciplined traits, back in Merseyside.
It is this ability to suddenly adapt between roles which makes the Dutchman stand out, and it is what makes him such a crucial figure for both club and country in whatever task he is asked to fulfil, whatever the occasion.
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