Jose Enrique – The Column #5: Wijnaldum’s surprising comments, Liverpool need more signings & Henderson’s contract conundrum

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  • Surprise over Gini Wijnaldum’s comments…
  • Italian football could suit Xherdan Shaqiri…
  • Who has impressed during pre-season…
  • Concerns over Liverpool’s lack of business this summer…
  • Jordan Henderson’s contract situation…

This is the fifth in a series of columns Jose Enrique, Liverpool’s former left-back, is writing for Empire of the Kop.

In it, Jose writes about his thoughts on Gini Wijnaldum calling out fans on social media, a potential move for Xherdan Shaqiri to Italy, concerns over a lack of incomings and who’s impressed during pre-season…

Gini Wijnaldum calls out social media critics

To be honest, I think every single player experiences some form of grief from social media. With Gini Wijnaldum leaving on a free transfer, I’m sure it will be more than the average, though.

Even with me, although I am retired, I still receive some messages that I don’t want to tell anyone about. I don’t like to click on these messages, but sometimes people are getting in touch for other reasons and you end up reading them.

But then you just delete it. It doesn’t affect me, but I am a little surprised Gini would come out and speak about these messages he’s received on social media.

I agree with him that it’s something that shouldn’t be there. I believe it’s very difficult and that the clubs could do something.

With social media – and I’ve said this for many years – you should have to provide your passport, or an ID, like you would do with your accounts.

Right now, anyone can comment anything and they can say whatever they like in the moment – with a fake profile, they can tell you anything.

With Gini, I actually thought he was going to come out and say something different. I was expected him to say something about the owners, because we all knew he wanted to extend his contract. I didn’t think it was about money, not really.

Xherdan Shaqiri to Lazio?

With Xherdan Shaqiri coming out and saying he wants a new challenge, and name-dropping Lazio to Italian journalists, it likely means the club have already been in touch for him.

And what he’s now done is put a little bit of pressure on the owners. If the money isn’t right, maybe Liverpool aren’t happy with what another club has offered, the best thing a player can do is to apply pressure.

I believe Shaqiri is a great player, he performed really well at Euro 2020, but the problem he has is that he’s injury prone.

The style of football Liverpool play is very intense, high pressure, and it doesn’t really suit him – he can’t handle playing four or five games in a row.

But he could obviously be a better fit in another team that that maybe doesn’t press as much, a team that has more of the ball.

Italy is the perfect place for Shaqiri, it’s more tactical over there, and he could be a very, very good player for Lazio, if that’s actually where he goes this summer.

Surprise stars from pre-season

Kostas Tsimikas has the best left-back in the world in front of him at Liverpool, but he has the desire to push himself and prove himself, and managers love that.

There isn’t much he can do to actually take the position away from Andy Robertson, that’s the reality, but he has surprised me in pre-season.

Another is Harvey Elliott – I love him. There are rumours that if Shaqiri leaves then he’ll take his position in the squad.

He’s done really well in the Championship, but to play for Liverpool is another level entirely.

He’s very, very young, but I do believe he’s going to be a first-team squad member, and he won’t go out on another loan.

Ibou Konate has been good, but he hasn’t really been tested. I’m looking forward to seeing more of him.

Returning superstars for the new season

Virgil van Dijk is our most important player and I’m so excited to see him back in action, especially in the new season. He makes a massive, massive difference for us in every single way.

He’s a leader on the pitch – and speaking over leaders, I can’t wait to see Jordan Henderson back on the pitch too. They are two of the main players in our team.

Joe Gomez and Joel Matip will also be big returns for Liverpool – I love them both, and with van Dijk we have three world-class centre-backs.

Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak did well last season, but we can’t compare them. It’s going to take a little bit of time to get back into the rhythm and to get rid of that fear of new injuries, but I believe they’re going to do it. 100%.

Liverpool’s lack of business

I am concerned with Liverpool’s lack of business in the transfer window so far, the problem with the owners is that we’ve had to sell before buying players in the past – and that seems to still be the case.

The only reason we have players like Alisson and van Dijk is because we sold Philippe Coutinho. Without that, we wouldn’t have these players and probably the titles they helped us win.

I believe the signing of Konate was great and it was for the right money, but sometimes you have to go out and spend the big money on the big players.

Before Alisson and van Dijk arrived, we were contenders to win titles and after they signed, we actually won one. So these kind of players are needed.

Why can Manchester United go to Real Madrid and sign one of their best players in Raphael Varane and we can’t?

Liverpool reportedly prepare £30m bid for Wolves star

The Daily Star report Liverpool could be set to ready a move for Adama Traore, but I don’t think it makes a lot of sense.

I don’t think he’s an upgrade on Shaqiri, but maybe he could bring a new dimension to the team because of the type of player he is.

He’s quick, he’s strong, but I don’t think he’s better than, let’s say, Diogo Jota.

But Adama, as a squad player, I would take him at Liverpool – not for the £30 million the Star are quoting, but he can come on for the last 20-30 minutes and offer attributes on-one in the world has, that’s the reality.

Renato Sanches and FIFA dream signings

I always sign Eduardo Camavinga on FIFA! He’s so good and especially so as such a young age, but I don’t know too much about him.

Renato Sanches is a player I do know a little bit more about – he has the potential to be a world-class player. He moved to a big, big club when he was very young and sometimes these kinds of transfer are not easy to handle.

But maybe now it’s the time for him to make a step into a bigger team. With one year left on his contract, he could be a good signing for us.

We’d have to make it clear to him, though, that we already have Henderson, Thiago and Fabinho, who will probably be our starting three in midfield.

If he can accept that, for the money it’d take to sign him with one year left on his contract, I believe he could be a great signing for Liverpool.

If I had the money, I’d go all-in for Erling Haaland, I don’t care!

There’s rumours of Kylian Mbappe too, but with the money he earns at Paris Saint-Germain, he could unbalance the finances at Liverpool – we’d then have to renew deals for Mo Salah and other players, and they’d ask for a lot more.

I believe Roberto Firmino is a world-class player, but being honest, he hasn’t been performing at the highest level for a while.

And with Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, the amount of assists they give – imagine if they were crossing balls into Haaland.

I love him, he has that personality, that always-want-to-win desire, he presses and is a big, strong and quick guy – he has everything.

If we sign Haaland, I wouldn’t even care if we didn’t sign anyone else this summer. You could sign a No.8, someone like Sanches, but we already have Fabinho, Henderson, Elliott, James Milner and Naby Keita, among others.

Henderson contract conundrum

Through what Henderson has brought to this team and to this club – and what he’s done off the field – he is Liverpool FC.

It’s a similar level of importance to Jurgen Klopp – obviously, Henderson isn’t Salah or Mane, but in terms of importance to the club, and I played with him, it’s like Steven Gerrard.

They’re different types of players, but it’s the same as well – he’s the captain of the club, he’s been representing the club for many years. He’s the one lifting the trophies, everyone wants the “Hendo Shuffle”!

I was actually mad when the rumours came out about the ongoing contract situation, because they’re just rumours.

If they’re true, I don’t know what the club are thinking. I understand there’s a policy which affects older players, but look at Milner – probably the fittest guy in the team.

They need to get Henderson tied down on a new deal, just like they need to with Salah and van Dijk.

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