One of the most important players in Liverpool’s recent run of success is officially a former Liverpool player today after Paris Saint-Germain announced that they had signed 30-year-old Gini Wijnaldum on a free transfer.
Wijnaldum’s departure from the Reds this summer has been a foregone conclusion for some time, with the only question in recent months being where he would end up. For a long time, Barcelona seemed the most likely answer. There where also whispers of Italian interest.
The only real surprise, then, is that in the end it’s PSG he’s joining. Though even that has been a widely shared secret for at least a few weeks after the French side swooped, offering double the wages of Barcelona—who had been offering to double his Liverpool wages.
Wijnaldum signed for Liverpool in the summer of 2016, joining from Newcastle in a £23M deal and signing a five-year contract. Across those five seasons in Red, he won the Champions League, Super Cup, Club World Cup, and Premier League.
In total, he made 237 appearances for Liverpool and averaged 49 appearances per season with the Reds following his first season at the club. No midfielder has played more minutes for Jürgen Klopp’s side over the past four years—collectively or in any one season—than Wijnaldum.
In addition to his omnipresence in the midfield of the most successful Liverpool side in the Premier League era, his extreme press resistance and calmness in high pressure situations along with tactical flexibility and exceptional match intelligence made him indispensable.
For PSG, then, they will be gaining a potentially invaluable piece of the Champions League-winning puzzle they’re trying to construct. For Liverpool, there is now officially a void in the centre of midfield that it is difficult to imagine the club being able to successfully fill with the pieces they currently have on hand.
And for Wijnaldum, of course, there is a new challenge along with one well earned last big payday for a player who may not being a great deal of flash but is unquestionably amongst the game’s best technicians and tacticians in the middle of the park.