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Midfield Competition Will Push Liverpool to New Heights

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Gini Wijnaldum believes competition for minutes will only make all of the club’s midfielders better.

Liverpool FC v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

When Liverpool brought in Fabinho and Naby Keïta over the summer, the assumption was that minutes might be hard to come by in 2018-19 for at least a few of the club’s returning midfielders. So far at least, that hasn’t been the case.

James Milner, Jordan Henderson, and Gini Wijnaldum have continued to rack up minutes in the middle, so far refusing to be dislodged. According to Winaldum, part of why is that the new arrivals have pushed the returning ones to improve.

“Competition means you have to perform to stay in the team,” Wijnaldum told the club’s official website. “But I think that has to be normal at a club like Liverpool because it’s a top team, one of the biggest teams in England.

“Liverpool will always sign good players and that means there will always be competition. That makes players even better—not only because you have an ‘opponent’ in your position, but also because you play and train against good teammates.”

Now, Wijnaldum expects even more from the midfielder in the second half of the season, as with Fabinho and Keïta increasingly settled he believes they will start to get more minutes—and everyone will be pushed to even better performances.

“It’s always difficult if you play for another team that didn’t play the way we play,” he added. “When you come here you have to settle in. It’s not only the way of playing, but also, Naby and Fabi in this case, they also came from another country.

“They have to find a new house, a new place, so they not only have to settle in with football, but also with their lives. Sometimes it takes time, longer than you expect, but I think they are both on a good way.”