With their Premier League campaign officially starting in just 12 days, Liverpool’s squad is starting to take shape, as players partaking in the latter stages of the World Cup begin to return. New goalkeeper Alisson and his compatriot Roberto Firmino joined up the team in France today, along with Trent Alexander-Arnold, leaving Simon Mignolet, Jordan Henderson and Dejan Lovren as the only players yet to return.
One man who has been around without making much of an impact is Georginio Wijnaldum. With Holland failing to qualify for the World Cup, the Dutchman has enjoyed a proper summer holiday, but his pre-season campaign has been disrupted, first by a minor muscle issue, then by a virus. The 27-year old is hoping to make up for lost time during the team’s stay in Evian.
“You get a lot out of [the training camps],” Wijnaldum told the official site. “Of course, it is hard like it always is in pre-season, and I think the sun and heat makes it harder, but it helps you get more prepared for the new season.
“It was really frustrating for me [in America] because every time I thought I was coming back, a little something else came up.,” he continued. “In pre-season you want to put a base down for the season, so it was tough for me with some small problems, but I hope I can stay fit now.
“You have to look forward instead of back and I need to work on my fitness. The guys have had a couple of weeks where they trained a lot and played. I haven’t played or trained as much as them, so this camp is really important for me.”
Starting his career as a tricky winger, the former Feyenoord man’s keen understanding of the game paired with his excellent fundamentals has seen Wijnaldum employed in a number of central roles under Jürgen Klopp, culminating in a run at the deepest midfield position towards the end of last season. While he is unlikely to be considered a starter in what is fast becoming an exceptionally talented midfield group, Gini’s versatile skill set means that he will always be a useful utility man who can be plugged directly into a number of roles depending on the manager’s needs.
With 12 days to go, though, he needs to find his fitness fast.