Last week Liverpool acquired Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum for a fee in the region of £25 million from Newcastle United, after the 25-year-old spent a season on Tyneside.
Is this another big money transfer that will be regretted at Anfield?
There is no hiding from it, Wijnaldum is clearly a talented player with a lot of potential. After becoming the youngest player ever to play for Feyenoord he went on to make over 100 appearances for the club before moving to Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven in 2011.
In his third season at Eindhoven he was made captain at the age of just 23, the following season he guided PSV to their first Eredivisie for seven years after making over 100 appearances for the club.
In July 2015, Wijnaldum made his move to the Premier League and now, in 2016, he finds himself at one of the biggest clubs in England, Liverpool.
At first glance it seems a solid signing after Wijnaldum stood out in his first season in the Premier League for Newcastle. Making 36 appearances in the league, Georginio managed to score 11 goals which saw him finish as the top goalscorer at Newcastle United, however he couldn’t help the club stay in the Premier League as Newcastle faced relegation to the Championship.
Liverpool have been busy already this summer, and after signing Mane earlier on in the transfer window, their attacking force looked complete. However the addition of Georginio Wijnaldum is, in my opinion, a fantastic one.
At Newcastle, Wijnaldum was commonly used as a central attacking midfielder, otherwise known as in ‘the hole’ or the number ten role and this was because he was by far the best player the Newcastle had during the 2015-16 season.
Therefore the team needed to be made around him, he was the one that would carve out chances and score the goals when the team needed it, so it wasn’t useful playing him on the wings.
However when you delve into the stats it is clear that actually Georginio performed better on the left side of midfield rather than down the middle. 19 of his 36 Premier League games last season were played on the left side of midfielder and eight of his 11 goals were scored on the left side too. In the central positions, Wijnaldum made 15 appearances yet only managed to net three times in the league.
With his new move to Liverpool, the stats showing his talent out on the left hand side are a positive, not only for the club but for himself too. On paper, he would never start in the number ten role ahead of Firmino or Coutinho at Liverpool next season.
Therefore I see him being used out wide a lot more, with new signing Mane looking to be more natural on the right side after making ten appearances on the right in the league last season, it seems as if Georginio will be playing on the left for the Reds, a position Liverpool have been needing to fill for a while.
However Wijnaldum will be hoping not to replicate the route that Adam Lallana has taken for Liverpool since joining from Southampton in a similar £25 million move. After scoring nine goals in the 2013-14 season for Southampton, Lallana joined Liverpool and has since made 57 appearances scoring nine goals.
After being very much a number ten for Southampton, scoring and making goals week in week out, his move to Merseyside saw Liverpool turn Adam into a makeshift right midfielder and is yet to capture the scintillating form he produced at St Mary’s Stadium.
To buy world-class players nowadays you have to be prepared to pay a lot of money, and Liverpool have done that with Wijnaldum and looking at his stats and the way Liverpool play I feel he will flourish under Klopp, however I can’t help thinking the money could’ve been better used.
In terms of left midfielders, I feel a World Cup winner in Andre Schurrle would’ve been a better purchase, Dortmund snapped him up for the same price as Wijnaldum was bought for.
Moreover, Liverpool were highly linked with another World Cup winner, Mario Götze and whilst Liverpool didn’t exactly need him, he could’ve been bought for just over £20 million.
One area Liverpool definitely need to strengthen is in central midfielder and centre back. Proven Premier League defensive midfielder Wanyama could’ve been signed relatively cheaply; also Polish anchor man Grzegorz Krychowiak, or even new Manchester City player, Ilkay Gundogan.
At the back, promising young French defender Samuel Umtiti was available for just £21 million. There are many more possible players Liverpool could’ve signed and perhaps should’ve signed, but it won’t be long until we see how the Reds fair in the Premier League as they kick off against Arsenal in August.
All in all, it could be argued that Liverpool haven’t gone about their business this summer in the best possible way and the millions spent on Wijnaldum could’ve been better spent elsewhere.
Despite this, there is no doubting Wijnaldum’s quality, and its quality Jürgen Klopp’s team needs if it is to succeed in what looks like to be one of the most competitive seasons in recent memory. Only time will tell if Wijnaldum will be a key part of that success should it arrive at Anfield.