Wijnaldum to Barca is a new talk of the town around Barcelona. After 8-2 defeat at Lisbon, a lot has happened in football club Barcelona. From the sacking of Seiten to Messi’s Burofax, all have kept the Barca fans in edges. Amidst of all the crisis, Barca appointed their European hero Koeman as their head coach to rebuild the squad. Since his appointment, The Dutchman has taken bold decisions to remove the heavyweights from the team and seems to be trying to take total control over the team.
Recently, rumours have been emerging that Koeman wants to sign his countryman Wijnaldum from Liverpool for a reported fee of around 15 million-plus additional. However, it seems that the board prefer La Masia graduate Thiago over Wijnaldum. In this article, we will see why Koeman is pushing for the transfer of the Dutchman.
Wijnaldum’s Club Career
The name “GINI” Wijnaldam carries a bitter memory among all the Barca fans. He was the main protagonist in the 4-0 loss in champions league semifinals second leg. 2 quick goals in the second half of the tie might be the most significant individual moment of his career.
Wijnaldum started his top-flight football with dutch side Feyenoord. In total of five season for the club, he made 135 appearances while netting the ball on 25 occasions. In 2011, he was signed by PSV where he established immediately and captained his team to their first Eredivisie since 2008. With 14 goals and four assists in league winning campaign, he was named as Dutch player of the year. He scored 56 goals in total in 154 appearances for PSV.
In 2015, Newcastle splashed 14.5 million to sign the Dutchman, making him the club’s most expensive signing back them. Gini was the star of the team starting all 38 league matches and scoring on all occasions, but he couldn’t save Newcastle from relegation.
The next season, he was signed by Liverpool for a fee of around 23 million. He is a central figure for the Klopp’s side who have now become European giants lately. He has scored 19 goals for Liverpool, and 2 of them were against Barca, in that famous 4-0 win. He also managed 16 assists in total. He has won champions league 18/19, UEFA super cup, FIFA club world club and premier league 19/20 with the reds.
Underrated star of Klopp’s team
Wijnaldum was key in Liverpool’s most recent success in Europe. The reds are the side which relies less on their midfielders for the creative part of the game. Most of their chances come from their fullbacks Trent and Robertson, whose delivery into the box is sublime.
The midfield of Liverpool is set up for different task than most of the European sides. The trio of Wijnaldum, Henderson and Fabinho is the real workhorse of the team at the middle of the park. With their fullbacks most often high up the pitch, these midfielders make sure that their defence is not exposed.
Wijnaldum, being Liverpool’s most tactical player, is an underrated workhorse. He is more of a box to box midfielder. From winning the ball in the middle of the park to making those direct run into the opponents’ box, he covers a lot of ground every game. His tireless runs in the midfield and relentless pressing is highly spoken of by the players and managers.
His understands the game well, which allows him to close up the spaces both vertically and horizontally, which ensures that Liverpool’s backline is not exposed during transitions.
Klopp’s statement on Wijnaldum:
“Gini speaks on the pitch for the way he plays. It’s just so obvious his importance. It is just so obvious his importance. It is both directions, small spaces, big spaces, it is hard challenges, fine football, pretty much all of that.’’
A completely different role for the Dutch National Team
The 29 years old midfielder has an entirely different role while playing for his country. In the Dutch team, the minimal attack comes from their fullbacks. Thus, under Koeman, Wijnaldum is handed more attacking role than in Liverpool. In 4-2-3-1 formation, Wijnaldum operates just in front of the double pivot which sees him more often in goals and assists.
In his 20 appearances for the Netherlands under Koeman, Wijnaldum has scored ten goals and three assists – 0.65 goal contribution per game. In contrast, he has 19 goals and 16 assists in 187 matches for Liverpool- 0.19 goal contribution per game.
Wijnaldum to Barca
Under this board, Barca has signed box to box midfielders (Paulinho, Vidal) with the hope to bring something new into their gameplay. But none of these signings was a success. The fans appreciate Vidal’s work rate, but his reckless challenges often left the fans frustrated.
Unlike Vidal, Wijnaldum is versatile and technically superior. His positional awareness and understanding the gameplay are the attributes that his managers talk about. Furthermore, his linkup with de jong for the national team would make his adaptation easier in midfield.
In addition to his defensive role, he is also good in the air which would provide a different dimension to Barca’s set-pieces.
He might not get the free role in Barca as in his national team, but under Koeman, his stats will undoubtedly improve.
In recent seasons, Barca has been criticized for their slow mobility in the middle of the park, lack of pressing and no plan B if in case the opponents approached differently. Koeman might want some tactical flexibility in approaching such games. His desire to sign a player of different tactical profile might be justified which makes Wijnaldum to Barca seem possible and not that much of a terrible signing for Football Club Barcelona.
Wijnaldum to Barca or Thiago?
Wijnaldum to Barca seems weird to fans for several reasons. Barca fans and some of the board members are not just convinced about the signing of the Dutch midfielder. One reason for this is he is not a player who has the Barca DNA and would only be Vidal 2.0.
Moreover, with such crowded midfield, Barca fans are worried about how Wijnaldum could take away minutes of Puig, Alena and Pedri. On the other hand, la Masia graduate, Thiago is available in the transfer market for a similar fee. The cules see his as a perfect midfielder for the club and are eager to see him in the Barca colours.
We now wait and see, if Wijnaldum to Barca happens or Thiago will return to flaunt the Blaugrana colours again!