Liverpool assistant Pep Ljinders has had his say on Gini Wijnaldum
Speaking to Dutch publication AD, Pep Ljinders has described what made Jurgen Klopp ‘fall’ for Gini Wijnaldum and why he is so important to the Liverpool setup.
The Dutchman has been a figure of much discussion since lockdown, with some fans calling on Wijnaldum’s lack of assists as a reason to upgrade him in the summer.
But as highlighted in a previous piece, the men that matter at Melwood know of his importance, especially in bigger matches.
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“What Jurgen fell for was his drive on the ball, and at the same time how Gini can pop up in the 16-yard box without the ball.
“He now also has the urge to always ask more from the team. A real personality, just like Virgil.”
This insinuates not only development of his ability, but development of his personality.
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Klopp clearly loves a versatile player. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain arrived after playing half a season at right wing-back for Arsenal, having also featured in the false nine, central midfield and the right wing.
James Milner has regularly filled in at left-back, and featured on the right hand side in Klopp’s first season. Fabinho has featured at centre back and right back for the Reds.
Ljinders highlighted one particular game – at the Nou Camp in the Champions League semi-final, when Wijnaldum filled the void for Roberto Firmino in Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat.
“We played at Barcelona with Gini in the striker last season. He played very well, although we lost 3-0. In the dressing room, he immediately walked over to Bobby Firmino, the actual striker, who was not fit enough to start.
“He said, ‘Bobby, do you do this every game? Respect! I now see how heavy it is.’ That is beautiful. Everyone is responsible for everything, we say. But nothing works better than when players themselves feel what everyone’s position demands. Not to take away their own specialism, but to experience. ”
This show of respect for Firmino’s role, as well as the willingness to play it, is exactly why Klopp will never willingly part with Wijnaldum.
That would be some rare transfer window good news, although the manner in which this has dragged on seems to indicate that there are problems with the renewal.
All we can do is watch and wait – Klopp clearly the rates Wijnaldum, as does everyone else in the heirarchy.