Liverpool are on the verge of finalising a move for Newcastle’s Georginio Wijnaldum, with the clubs agreeing a £25m fee. The Dutch midfielder will head to America to undergo a medical and discuss personal terms, although these are not expected to stop a deal with the 25-year-old obviously keen to leave the Championship and join us instead.
But what exactly is Wijnaldum going to offer us? Reds know him from his four-goal salvo versus Norwich, and note his versatility in that he can play centrally or from the flank. His goalscoring record in Holland is also excellent, and Rafa Benitez has waxed lyrical in regards to his ability.
To find out more, we asked Lee Ryder, the chief sports writer at the Newcastle Chronicle and someone who will have seen every match Wijnaldum’s played in England.
This guy is Newcastle’s answer to James Pearce, so he knows his stuff!
Here’s what he had to say.
“Let’s get this straight, Gini Wijnaldum is a fine technical footballer on his day and he can be a match winner when he is in the mood,” he began.
“He started off quite well last season after making a £14.5million move from PSV Eindhoven to Tyneside.
“But with the team being in a poor state after some bad moves in the summer window, Wijnaldum was expected to lead the charge for survival.
“He did so at first and when he bagged four goals against Norwich, United fans thought they had a real star on their hands.
“As Liverpool fans will know, he also done it against the Reds with a brace in a 2-0 at St James’ Park.
“Sadly that was as good as it got.
“He didn’t perform well in the second half of the season and he was very poor away from home.
“It was as if he could not take on all the responsibility of carrying the team by himself and disappeared when Newcastle needed him the most.
“That’s not a slight on him it’s just there weren’t enough good players around him.
“Although, some Newcastle fans do think that the lack of contribution from Wijnaldum and Moussa Sissoko, the club’s most talented players, was a huge factor in going down.
“Things got very bad for Wijnaldum at one point when Steve McClaren considered relegating him to the reserves shortly before being sacked.
“And Liverpool fans should know that even Rafa Benitez could not coax a performance out of him during his early games in charge before he consequently dropped Wijnaldum.
“His two goals against Spurs on the last day of the season took his tally to a flattering 11 goals for the campaign.
“It was a taste of what Wijnaldum can do when the pressure is off.
“Given Liverpool have a lot of talent to put around him that might work in Wijnaldum’s favour.
“Gini is a good player but has a lot to learn about the Premier League.”
Ryder’s report suggests Wijnaldum is a player of immense talent, but one that struggled in a team surrounded by average footballers. At Liverpool, he’ll be surrounded by excellent footballers, but we’ll still need him to show more fight than he did at times with the Toon.
Wijnaldum will be working under just as much pressure at Liverpool, and we hope that with the guidance of Jurgen Klopp (who obviously rates him very highly), he’ll be able to improve on his debut Premier League season – which still delivered 11 goals – despite his inconsistencies.
The price-tag is steep, but we recouped virtually all the £25m on Jordon Ibe, Jerome Sinclair and Sergi Canos, so when you think about it like that – the deal looks less of a gamble.