While the entire team shined in Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Chelsea yesterday, Georginio Wijnaldum gave a truly stand-out performance. His movement off the ball and work in pressing Chelsea helped keep his side on top for much of the game, including a dominant first half.
Speaking after the game, Wijnaldum praised manager Jürgen Klopp for his vision in putting a squad together that’s showing a lot of progress in the early weeks of the Premier League season.
“I believe he is building something special here. I got that feeling when I first met with Jurgen Klopp. I knew this was the right club for me. I always had a good feeling about moving to Liverpool and things have gone well so far. I am happy to be a part of it. I feel blessed.”
Wijnaldum moved to Liverpool for £25 million this past summer from Newcastle, who were relegated to the Championship at the end of last season. While he played largely as a #10 at St. James’ Park, Wijnaldum has been deployed in a deeper role for the Reds. He said that, lack of goals notwithstanding, he’s adjusting to life as a #8 rather well and will only get better.
“I’m learning game by game and I think I’ll continue to get better. I hope the goals will come soon. I’m trying to get in the positions to score. I just need a bit of luck with the ball dropping to me but the most important thing is that the team keeps winning. If that happens I’ll be happy. [...] It’s difficult to compare my role here to the one I played at Newcastle. Towards the end at Newcastle I was playing on the left side. At the beginning I was playing as the #10. I was almost the only midfielder in front of the goal behind the strikers. This is a different style of playing. In this style you need to look to each other. Sometimes when the other two in midfield are going towards the box, you need to stay. If (James) Milner goes forward, I have to stay, so you need to look to each other. At Newcastle I didn’t have to look because I always had people behind me. I could go to the ball every time. I have faith in the way we are playing. I’m enjoying it.”
Klopp called him a “complete footballer” when Liverpool brought Wijnaldum in over the summer and, just five weeks into the Premier League season, it’s clear that Klopp knew what he was talking about. The performance at Chelsea was his strongest of the season, and there’s still plenty of football left to play in 2016-17.
Wijnaldum also said he and the team were ecstatic following the win.
“It was a big win for us. It was great to celebrate with our fans at the end. The manager congratulated us. He was happy. There were lots of hugs!”