Speaking ahead of Sunday night’s Nations League final against Portugal, Gini Wijnaldum has offered some illuminating insight into how he likes to play the game and where he sees his preferred position.
This question came from the gathered press: “Where do you feel more comfortable, I mean more freedom, in the Liverpool system or in the Netherlands system?”
In response, and with a trademark grin, Gini admitted: “Both, but, I like to attack.
“I think every player likes to attack if they can attack,” the Dutchman revealed in a pre-Nations League final press conference (skip to 10:52 to hear the question and his response).
“I prefer to play as a No.10, but I’m also comfortable in the role where I play at Liverpool. So, it just depends where the team needs me, where the manager needs me.
“But, since I’m young I prefer to play higher on the pitch and I’m happy that I can do it for the national team.”
🔴 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 🔴
YESSS!! Dream come true! This has been my dream since I started playing football! So grateful to lift this trophy with such a special team and to bring it home for all the amazing supporters of Liverpool!! This one is for all Reds. 🙏🏾❤ #UCL #SixTimes pic.twitter.com/WZKqmGJett
— Gini Wijnaldum (@GWijnaldum) 1 June 2019
While we know that Gini has been operating in a more advanced midfield position with the Oranje, he’s now being unequivocal about where he wants to play and what type of midfielder he is.
It should not come as too much of a surprise either.
Wijnaldum arrived Anfield for around £25 million from recently-relegated Newcastle back in the summer of 2016; it came off the back of 11 goals in 38 appearances in his single season on Tyneside
At St James’ Park, (where incidentally he scored all his goals) Gini was always an attacking midfielder memorably scoring four in one game against Norwich.
“It was quite a big task, Jürgen admitted. “I said to him: ‘What does it say about you?’ He said: ‘I don’t know’. I said: ‘That you can play everything’. When I told him that he plays the position, he was surprised himself.
Klopp on Wijnaldum: “I know for people outside it’s easy to say, ‘[You need] another striker’ or whatever. Gini did really well. In a game like this, in a really small space, in a completely new position for him, he played it in Holland and he played offensive wing at Newcastle”
— Jack Sear (@JackSear) May 4, 2019
“He is the player to do it. As a football player you have to be educated in a lot of things and he has this education. So it helped, it was really good.”
It’s amazing when you think he went on to score that famous brace against Barça at Anfield!
Those goals completed an insane comeback that got us to the Champions League final; winning there, Gini played 62 minutes in a compact three-man midfield before being replaced by James Milner.
Now, with the 28-year-old’s latest insisting he prefers an offensive position, perhaps it will give Klopp further food for thought on how to best utilise the Dutchman’s multivalent talents.