Former Liverpool star Gini Wijnaldum has pointed the finger at reactionary fans on social media who he felt blamed him when the team’s performances suffered last term.
The Dutch international added that his contractual standoff with the club’s hierarchy seemed to feed into such blame from some supporters online.
“I have to say also there was social media,” the midfielder was quoted as saying by The Times (via The Guardian.
“When it went bad, I was the player who they blamed – that I wanted to leave.
Every day in training and in the games, I gave everything I had to bring it to a good end because, during the years, Liverpool meant so much to me and because of the way the fans in the stadium were treating me.
“My feeling was that the fans in the stadium and the fans on social media were two different kinds.
“The fans in the stadium always supported me. Even when they came back [after the Covid lockout], already knowing that I was going to leave, they still supported me and, in the end, they gave me a great farewell.
“On social media, if we lost, I was the one who got the blame.
“There was a moment when I was like: ‘Wow. If they only knew what I was doing to stay fit and play every game.’
“Other players might have said: ‘OK, I am not fit.’ You get players in their last year who are like: ‘I’m not playing because it is a risk.’ I did the opposite.
“I didn’t always play good but, after the game, I could look in the mirror and say: ‘I gave it all. I trained hard to get better.’ Even with the physios … I took the most possible treatment I could get.
“I cannot remember when I had a day off because I played so many games and basically it was too much for the body but I did everything to stay fit.”
Despite Jurgen Klopp hoping to keep the ex-No.5 at the club, it was believed that a long-term contract would have made little business sense given the player’s age, and the reluctance directly inspired his decision to leave the side.
It’s a loss that is at once understandable from a purely business perspective and difficult to come to terms with given his clear importance to the manager.
The former Newcastle United star featured in every single Premier League clash for Liverpool last season – the only midfielder to accomplish such a feat.
There’s not telling how much of an impact Wijnaldum’s departure will have on the squad, though a failure to adequately replace his level of durability and reliability would be a mistake of epic proportions.
Ultimately, however, it’s upsetting to think that the behaviour of some fans contributed to the 31-year-old’s departure from Anfield.