A European Champion and a key part of the Reds impressive march to 97 points, Gini Wijnaldum was a constant presence in Jürgen Klopp’s engine room this year.
Clocking up 47 total appearances for the Reds in the season just gone, the Dutchman’s tireless exploits in midfield contributed to our 38 wins in all competitions.
But, a direct witness to the squad’s development, the 28-year-old admitted that performances sometimes gave way for results – a factor that shows their maturity and evolution as a team.
“We have evolved a lot,” Wijnaldum told the official club website. “You can see it not only with the results but also with the way we were playing. We grew during the season.
“We started really well and we managed to win difficult games where in the past it was quite difficult and if we didn’t play really well we didn’t win the games that were really tough.
“But this season we managed to win those games. We learned a lot. Everyone is a better player than they were before.”
While we always felt that Gini has been an absolutely quality midfielder at Liverpool, this campaign has seen him step it up even more: his brace against Barcelona alone vindicates that.
In terms of developmental curves, Gini also namechecked his Netherlands teammate and Reds collosus, Virgil van Dijk, as a player who simply rode the crest of the wave at all times this term.
“What has impressed me the most with Virgil is that he’s consistent, he barely makes a mistake. He developed really well at Celtic and Southampton and Liverpool, he developed a lot.
“What also impressed me is that other players play better when he plays; the defenders next to him defend better, the players in front of him play better because when you play and you know he’s behind you, you have a safe feeling.”
While we felt Van Dijk’s impact last season when he arrvied in January, having for the whole campaign this time has showed exactly why he is the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and why we paid £75m.
Thanks to Van Dijk’s calming influence and marshalling of the backline, we suffered just a single defeat, conceded the fewest goals in the top flight, and stoicly won the Champions League in Madrid.