Liverpool have had a busy summer transfer window so far. Jurgen Klopp has addressed some key areas of the squad, bringing in Sadio Mane, Loris Karius, Joel Matip, Marko Grujic, Ragnar Klavan, Alex Manninger and Georginio Wijnaldum.
The club have also allowed Martin Skrtel, Joe Allen and Jordon Ibe to depart the club as Klopp looks to mould the team into his image and identity during his first pre-season in charge at Melwood.
Every signing has been significant, fixing issues within the squad. But the signing of Georginio Wijnaldum has invited contrasting reactions; with many dismissing it as a luxury and unnecessary purchase.
Wijnaldum started his career at the famed Feyenoord Academy, where he stayed for five years. He then moved on to another Dutch giant, PSV Eindhoven, where he spent four seasons and became their captain.
Scoring 56 goals for the club from a central attacking role, Wijnaldum broke into the Dutch national team during this period. Newcastle United were impressed like many other European teams, and decided to bring his immense qualities to Tyneside for £14.5 million, a record high fee for owner Mike Ashley.
Though a season of struggles followed for Newcastle, Wijnaldum was their best attacking player. A constant goal threat and their creator-in-chief, The Magpies’ new man was played as a wide midfielder on the left or right flank by both Steve McClaren and Rafa Benitez.
Despite this not being a favoured position of his, Wijnaldum ended the season as the club’s top scorer. The Dutchman bagged 11 goals in the league, as Newcastle got relegated. His performances again caught the eye of many big clubs, and it has proved to be Liverpool who have acted the most swiftly, sealing his signature for £23 million.
Liverpool were frustrated in their efforts to sign Piotr Zielinski and Mahmoud Dahoud, so Klopp opted for Wijnaldum. The deal has been scrutinised though due to the plethora of central and attacking midfielders in the Liverpool squad.
Liverpool already have Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Lucas Leiva, Emre Can and Marko Grujic as their central midfielders. Whlie in attacking midfield, they have Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firminio, Lazar Markovic, Sadio Mane and Sheyi Ojo.
A subject of debate has been his potential position in the team. Should he operate in a central midfield or an attacking midfield position? Where is there actually space for him?
But a player with Wijnaldum’s versatility should be welcomed in any squad. Perhaps ideally suited to play in a two man midfield in a 4-2-3-1 against the smaller teams where he could dictate play and make runs into the box, the 25-year-old then also gives Klopp the option to move to a 4-3-3 in bigger matches with Wijnaldum acting as the most attack minded player of the midfield trio.
Klopp could use his new man in wide areas as was shown at Newcastle in a 4-2-3-1, while the player’s actual preferred role of being the team’s number 10 is also available in that formation.
Wijnaldum thrives the most in central areas of the pitch, but Klopp will appreciate the flexibility offered. It is because of this versatility, that it is wrong to consider Wijnaldum as an ‘unnecessary luxury signing’. The player can only add quality and options to the squad, and at the age of 25, is only likely to improve at Anfield.