Gini Wijnaldum has been missed by Liverpool this season, but is he just as lost without his former club?
After letting his contract expire, Wijnaldum moved from Anfield to PSG in last summer’s transfer window.
The Dutch international got the big payday he was searching for, but it hasn’t worked out on the pitch for either party.
Why hasn’t it worked for the midfielder?
The 30-year-old had a guaranteed place in Juergen Klopp’s starting 11 at Liverpool. But sadly for Wijnaldum, this hasn’t been the case at Le Parc des Princes. He has only started seven of PSG’s opening 16 games, and he has been struggling to adapt to the French side’s style of play.
Wijnaldum has recently compared his current and former teams, and in all likelihood, this will be the main talking point of his season.
He said: “Here at PSG, it looks like my first season in Liverpool; we discover each other. The most important thing is to get used to the players; it’s hard to compare these two teams.”
He added: “In Liverpool, we knew each other well. We formed the same team for five years. We had our identity; it was different. The style of play too.”
Why do Liverpool miss the midfielder?
Although Liverpool no longer have to pay the considerable wage demands of their former player, it’s evident that they miss his presence.
Wijnaldum’s holding midfield role was pivotal in Liverpool’s ability to win matches consistently. When Fabinho could not win the ball, Wijnaldum’s ability to block passing lanes allowed his team to regain their shape.
However, since his departure, Klopp has struggled to find a player to take on this role. Naby Keita can play in this position, but Liverpool have struggled to rely on him this season. The rest of the midfielders in the squad are too ball orientated and love to press forward.
This has meant that Liverpool have been more open to counter-attacks, and their fixtures have become more chaotic. The side has had problems when opponents catch their midfielders ahead of the ball. Wijnaldum’s departure has also affected the players he developed good chemistry with, such as Andy Robertson and Sadio Mane, who haven’t played to the same standard since his departure.
How do Liverpool and Wijnaldum solve the problem?
Luckily for Klopp, he can analyse the issues within his midfield during the international break. The German has to find a midfielder with Wijnaldum’s ability to read space when Keita can’t play. However, this may prove difficult as Liverpool’s midfielders instinctively like to press the ball. With this considered, Klopp may need to bring in some new blood in January.
As for Wijnaldum, he must continue to try and adapt to Ligue 1 and over time, that may come. But if this isn’t possible, we may see the Champions League winner back in the Premier League in the future.
Featured image credit: Getty