It’s easy to root for hard workers. It’s easy to root for a smile and an honest way. It’s damn easy to root for Georginio Wijnaldum. The Liverpool midfielder has risen in stature as this season has progressed. He was an unknown quantity coming from Newcastle, where he was “the guy who only scored at home.” And while there’s obviously some truth to that epithet, Gini has come into his own under Jürgen Klopp and has done his fair share of running about in this Liverpool midfield three. Now, everybody who’s anybody is talking about how Wijnaldum’s an important player on the pitch. Me, You. Didi Hamann.
“I like him a lot,” said Hamann. “He showed at Newcastle that he’s a goalscoring midfielder and I think he brings a lot more to the team.
“He’s got a lot of energy. He can win a ball. I think he’s got very good vision. He’s a good passer of the ball.
“So I think his all-round game is very good. And obviously the goals, the icing on the cake.”
Gini has scored five goals this season. Made four assists. His numbers are close to Emre Can numbers in winning possession. Not as defensive as Jordan Henderson, not as attacking as Adam Lallana. And, speaking of, if you want to talk about “all-rounder,” you really have to look at Lallana to compare. Lallana’s ability to pounce and press and snap into attack immediately with speed, keeping composure and finesse to make something happen, is the secret ability of all-rounders. Everywhere. Expertly.
“Since Gerrard left, we lacked goals sometimes from midfield,” said Hamann. “The more players scoring goals, the more it takes pressure off the front three. They can’t always do it on their own.”
Goals from midfield have been a problem for Liverpool sides before Steven Gerrard left. Charlie Adam was brought in at one point. That other Danish guy with the long hair, too, among others. But yes, goals from midfield are fantastic. When the goalscoring is shared around, a team will feel empowered to attack confidently. We saw it happening already this season. And there’s a chance, with all this winning we’re doing now, that we’ll see it against Manchester City this weekend. Wijnaldum has proven against Chelsea and Arsenal and in the reverse fixture against City that he can show up with a goal in a big match.
Not a card-carrying member of the all-rounders club yet, but his game is certainly very good.