Bringing in Geoginio Wijnaldum was one of Liverpool’s more curious pieces of business in the summer transfer window. Sky Sports pundit and Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher even declared, “I struggle to see where he’ll fit in.”
Indeed, Wijnaldum played most of his career in the attacking midfield band—a position at which Liverpool was thoroughly stocked. The assumption, one that proved correct, was that he would be moved back to the central midfield, an area where Liverpool needed strengthening.
Wijnaldum is used to playing in a more advanced position, and equally, used to scoring more goals.
“You get used to scoring goals,” Wijnaldum told the club’s official website, “During the years I have scored a lot of goals as a midfielder and when you get that feeling, you always want to score.
“But the most important thing is how can I help the team? This couple of games it was with assists, but I’m relaxed and easy, I have faith in my qualities and I know goals will come. But the team is the most important thing and if we win games, it’s OK for me.”
Although many Liverpool fans, including yours truly, still find Wijnaldum’s inclusion in the central midfield curious, it’s hard to discount his two assists—both to fellow attacking-mid-turned-central-mid Adam Lallana—so far this campaign. His inclusion in the side creates a legitimate goal-scoring threat from everyone in the midfield on up. When you include either Milner or Clyne coming up from fullback, the number of attacking threats swells to 6 or 7 players.
Dutch players might be known for their attacking mindset, but even for Wijnaldum Liverpool’s attacking swagger is impressive.
“Sometimes we attack with six or seven players and that’s a lot. I had that with only one team in Holland – PSV [Eindhoven] in my first season.
“The years after and before, the number of players we attacked with was fewer, four or sometimes five, but not six or seven.”
Liverpool’s defensive frailties still represent a big problem to overcome for the side. The seven goals conceded is tied for fifth worst in the young campaign. A large part of that comes from problems stemming from the midfield. But on the bright side Liverpool’s 9 goals scored is only surpassed by Manchester City’s 11, and equaled by the side we’re facing on Friday night, Chelsea. And a large part of that comes from the newly attack-minded midfield that Wijnaldum and Lallana have helped to create.