Costly target has the tools to transform Liverpool’s midfield
Having heard rumours about a club of lesser stature planning to sell one of their better players for an outrageously overblown amount of money, Liverpool, in the panicked frenzy of a man charging through a hospital about to miss the birth of his first child, have entered the Georginio Wijnaldum reckoning.
The Newcastle United midfielder had been tipped to sign for either Everton or Tottenham Hotspur this summer, though, believe it or not, neither have been especially eager to stump up the reported £27m it’ll cost to sign him.
After paying Southampton £34m for Sadio Mane, Liverpool have already proved that their willingness to recklessly match the obscene demands of sellers looking to grab a slice of their vast fortune is indestructible, regardless of regime and, if the Reds have taken a shine to Wijnaldum, such a sum is unlikely to push them out of the pursuit.
It’s certainly great news for Newcastle, who look to further line their pockets ahead of a tilt at Championship promotion, while it’s a decent step up for a player whose only season in English football ended in relegation.
But where it’s win-win for the aforementioned parties, how Liverpool benefit from this deal isn’t immediately clear. Their record of signing from Premier League brethren based beneath their station isn’t great and the last time they entered negotiations with Mike Ashley’s henchmen they infamously parted with £35m for the gain of one Andrew Thomas Carroll.
With a multitude of attacking midfielders on the roster, there’s no gaping hole at Anfield in which Wijnaldum can seamlessly slot either.
But some minor positional hocus pocus could lead to the Dutchman developing into a major asset.
Liverpool may have plenty of midfielders, but they have none with Wijnaldum’s eye for goal.
He rustled the net 11 times in his maiden Premier League campaign, a tally that would’ve made him the Reds’ top scorer last time around.
The bulk of these goals – eight to be exact – came when he was deployed on the left flank, with just three coming from the number ten berth that’s considered to be his best.
His energy, versatility and ability in possession – he assisted six goals with a pass completion rate of 84.8% (Liverpool’s best midfielder in this regard was Joe Allen, whose average was 81.1%) – suggests a box-to-box role is one Wijnaldum would flourish in, providing a source of goals and creativity from deep midfield that was notably lacking last season.
Jurgen Klopp’s men are 13/8 to nab a top-four finish in 2016/17 and although the likes of Emre Can and Jordan Henderson are already box-to-box options in the Anfield ranks, neither have previously netted more than six times in a league season.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.