Georginio Wijnaldum might not have gotten off to quite the start to his Liverpool career he would've wanted. Despite notching an assist as part of a free-flowing trio - partnering Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana - that flattened Arsenal in a magical twenty minutes of the season opener, he was also a key member of the same trio's disjointed first half, during which the Reds looked likely to leave the Emirates empty-handed. He also took part in the unavailing possession-fest that was Liverpool's loss to Burnley, where again the midfield looked patchy.
Critics have pointed out - both before and after the transfer - that he may be too similar to his captain, both in playing style and the areas of the pitch they like to occupy. Nonetheless, during the summer, it became clear that he was a player Jürgen Klopp wanted to add to his midfield options. According to an interview with Voetbal International, it was love at first sight:
"I instantly fell in love with Jurgen Klopp.
"I wasn’t even inside, yet he asked why I was benched for a moment last season.
"When I explained it, Klopp said ‘okay’ and then the real conversation started.
"I got more excited every second. He talked about his passion, it really touched my heart. Klopp is not an act."
It comes as no surprise to those who have watched the manager's press conferences and his interactions with players and staff over the years, but it is always good to get this kind of verbal confirmation that the German is as charismatic and passionate as his touchline exploits suggest.
Wijnaldum went on to share his feelings about the much-debated three-a-day training schedule and its effect on his physical condition:
"I’ve also never trained this hard at any other club.
"My first day was in the USA. The first training session was okay, after that it was only suffering.
"It felt so great when we were winning 4-1 at Arsenal, and I wasn’t even tired."
Wijnaldum enjoying the results of a hard pre-season is encouraging, but it is worth mentioning that the former Newcastle man - with the exception of a traumatic back injury three years ago - is quite durable, and generally tolerates a high match volume without much trouble. Thus, it will be interesting to see how some of the more fragile members of the squad respond to the training regime over the course of the coming season.