It’s undeniable that Gini Wijnaldum has had a really successful first season at Liverpool. With all of the injuries to the team, he was asked to play more minutes than many fans would have expected in the summer. Filling in for the missing Henderson, Wijnaldum played a crucial role in Liverpool’s midfield in the back half of the season, scoring some important goals along the way.
In a conversation yesterday before the Netherlands demolished Luxembourg 5-0, Wijnaldum revealed that someone who had been integral to helping him settle in during his first season was none other than club legend Kenny Dalglish.
"With (former Feyenoord coach) Wim Jansen I was able to talk for hours at Feyenoord. This season Wim has been with me in Liverpool. Those are nice moments,” he mused.
"With other (Rotterdam coach) Wim (Van Hanegem) I could also talk well. At PSV I had that with (club legend, scout and ambassador) Willy van der Kuijlen and here it's grown soon with Kenny.
"On a typical day with Kenny, he takes me for lunch. We live close together and he tells me about the matches he has already seen me play at Feyenoord. About goals I made and about the things that appealed to him in my game. "
One has to assume that a goal they spoke about over a nice grilled chicken and some salad the next day was Wijnaldum’s opening goal against Middlesbrough in the team’s final match, the one that clinched Liverpool a Champions League spot.
On that goal and the tension at Anfield before he struck — palpable even to those of us watching at home thousands of miles away — Wijnaldum confirmed, “You felt on the field that people lost their trust. It did not work out (by half-time) and the club was so excited for the Champions League. In one shot, my fellow players also trusted. I just know what I can do and I always trust in the things I do.”
It may not feel like it now, but August will be here before we know it, and we should expect Wijnaldum to continue to grow into is role on the team as Liverpool take on the Champions League.