Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had effusive, heartwarming, and, let’s be honest, tear-inducing praise for midfielder Gini Wijnaldum, who will complete the next chapter of his enviable career at FC Barcelona.
The classy Dutchman leaves a significant hole in the Reds’ midfield. Though Liverpool have two legitimate world-class talents in Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara who can buoy this group, as well as another great player in Jordan Henderson, the Reds are losing a truly one-of-a-kind player in Wijnaldum who helped build a juggernaut.
And although Liverpool don’t seem to be actively interested in making a big signing in midfield, the reality is that they should be proactive in their efforts. If Klopp said such great things about Gini Wijnaldum, then it stands to reason that these are gargantuan shoes to fill. And it stands to reason that if Liverpool acknowledge they are losing such an immense player, then they must also acknowledge that they need to be up to the task of replacing him.
Curtis Jones has major potential. I would not dare say otherwise. And Liverpool should show faith in the 20-year-old. They should believe in him.
Liverpool can sign an affordable young talent to help replace Gini Wijnaldum
There is a difference between believing in someone and throwing too much on their plate, though. Let me ask you something. How many players in the Premier League are 20 years old and playing at the level of a Gini Wijnaldum? How many are 23 and doing so? How many are even close?
The Reds are going to have to be realistic with what they can expect from Jones in 2021-2022. He needs to be seen as a rotational piece. Not a direct replacement for a guy who was one of the best midfielders in the league for years and only had a down year during the most grueling season in recent memory.
Liverpool have options to replace Wijnaldum. There are many affordable young players who can come in and give the Reds an upgrade, working with the likes of Henderson and Jones to help support a midfield anchored by Fabinho and orchestrated by the incomparable Thiago.
Fenway Sports Group are worried about breaking the bank during a pandemic, but they don’t have to. For every established Premier League name like Youri Tielemans and Yves Bissouma who could command a fee of 50 million euros, there are talented young players like Houssem Aouar and Ryan Gravenberch who could conceivably be just as good at nearly half the price.
The key is Liverpool need to make the right decision with who they purchase, in terms of quality and fit. Not just finances. But above all else, they need to make a decision. Manchester City and Chelsea won’t be complacent. If Liverpool want to keep competing for titles and increase their profile, they need to invest in the team. That starts with adequately replacing arguable club legends once they depart.