Five, soon to be six, games into the Premier League season, Liverpool are without three of their eight first-team midfielders. Naby Keita, Thiago Alcantara, and, in heartbreaking fashion, Harvey Elliott, have all been hit with the dreaded injury bug. Now, of course, losing under half of your central midfield options doesn’t exactly present a crisis, but it does send a timely reminder of what a certain Georginio Wijnaldum offered Jurgen Klopp.
Thiago Alcantara Injury Reiterates Key Georginio Wijnaldum Trait
Hardly a Crisis, but Not Ideal
Liverpool still have options to turn to, not bad ones at that, either. Yet, with Manchester City coming up, you can’t help but have this nagging feeling that the injuries will be costly; injuries that Wijnaldum never had. Is the Dutchman the best midfielder in the world? No. Is he the most reliable and available? Most probably. And, let’s face it, he’s not exactly the worst player we’ll see.
Every time that The Reds are forced to turn to backup options in big games, it is Wijnaldum who comes to mind, alongside the regret of his Paris Saint-Germain move. He was the big game, Champions League semi-final scoring, always available player that kept a consistent face in the middle of Jurgen Klopp’s system. Now that consistency is gone, just how much Liverpool are forced to rotate due to injuries, may well define their season.
The hope with every fan is that this is the season in which Liverpool prove their depth; in which Curtis Jones shines once more; in which Naby Keita finally justifies the £54 million fee paid in 2018. The Guinea international certainly started brightly, but, once again, injury struck. Though only a short-term knock, which will see him miss one game, if those small injuries continue to arrive on a regular basis, then Klopp may be forced to find another option.
Thiago Alcantara Injury is the Most Frustrating
Whilst Keita struggles for fitness, Thiago Alcantara, 31 next year, is yet to maintain an extended run without injury, himself. The Spaniard was meant to be the key to a new-look Liverpool midfield; one built to control games, and ruthlessly dismantle the opposition in Manchester City-like fashion. And, in fairness, we have seen sparks of that. In Liverpool’s current 15-game unbeaten run, the former Bayern man has been key to how comfortable The Reds have looked – particular throughout this season.
In the last ten games of last season, we finally saw glimpses of the player Liverpool believe they signed. With a crucial final sprint left to enter the Champions League places at the last gasp, Thiago returned from injury, finally next to Fabinho, and passed Jurgen Klopp’s side to victory, game after game, even netting his first goal along the way, coming against Southampton.
It’s that partnership, between Thiago and Fabinho, which would have been key to victory against Manchester City. So, to suddenly be without Thiago, will frustrate Jurgen Klopp; it will leave him wondering why Gini Wijnaldum was allowed to leave so easily.
Wijnaldum Didn’t Exactly Get the Better End of the Deal
When Gini Wijnaldum swapped Liverpool success for the romance of Paris, Mauricio Pochettino would have been delighted. In amongst a super team, which includes Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Lionel Messi, Wijnaldum was meant to be the glue to hold it all together. So far, however, he has been anything but – subbed off at half-time in the 1-1 draw with Club Brugge, benched against Clermont Foot, subbed in the 66th minute against Stade Reims, and again in the 65th against Metz. From Mr Reliable, Wijnaldum has become an underwhelming opposite in France.
The fact is, neither party got the best end of the deal. Liverpool could do with the reliability of Wijnaldum, and the Dutchman could do with the comforts of Anfield. As things stand, the original romance surrounding Paris has become nothing more than the worst first date of all time for Gini Wijnaldum.
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