Most fans and pundits will credit the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker, and a certain Mohamed Salah with being the main reasons for Liverpool’s dominance so far this season. All three of them were signed by Jürgen Klopp and all three made instant positive impacts to the team’s performances.
Salah was crowned the golden boot winner at the end of the 2017/18 Premier League season, breaking many Liverpool goalscoring records in the process.
Virgil van Dijk has played 33 league games since signing for the Merseyside club in January last year, in which the defence has kept 18 clean sheets.
Alisson Becker’s big money move from Roma has been nothing short of successful, with the Brazilian keeping four more clean sheets than the eight goals he has conceded in his first 20 games in goal for Klopp’s mighty Reds.
Regardless of the impact these incredible players have had for Liverpool, it is one of Klopp’s first ever major signings that has proven to be one of The Reds’ best players this season.
Inconsistent Winger to Midfield Maestro
Many fans did not know what to make of the signing of Georginio Wijnaldum from Newcastle in July 2016. The Dutch international was obviously a threat going forwards, but there were huge questions about his attitude. It was not clear what role the ex-Magpies player would take up for Klopp’s side, with Wijnaldum able to play in more advanced roles, whilst also being a threat from out wide.
88 Premier League appearances later, Wijnaldum has successfully transformed himself into one of the best central midfielders in the top flight of English football. Like a fine wine, he has matured with age and become a key component to Klopp’s rock and roll style.
Wijnaldum received a standing ovation from the Anfield faithful after his 78 minutes of complete dominance against Arsenal. He won ten of the fourteen duels he contested, more than any other Liverpool player. His ceaseless work rate and bullishness in the middle of the park were matched by his composure and impeccable touches to produce one of the most complete midfield performances of the season.
The Complete Transitional Midfielder
Wijnaldum has been deployed as a central midfielder for the majority of the season, however, he has also played as a defensive midfielder on a number of occasions. On average the Dutch International completes over 50 passes a game, with a pass completion of 91%. Now, 50 passes is not actually that high a number for a central midfielder. However, Wijnaldum’s ability to link the defence and attack cannot be ignored. There have been countless times this season when the 28-year-old has picked up the ball in crowded conditions before calmly being able to wriggle his way out of any pressure and then picking out a teammate with a sumptuous pass.
Wijnaldum does not get involved with creating goalscoring opportunities for his teammates. The Dutch international is involved in a goal every 1508 minutes this season. And what a crucial goal it was away to Spurs in Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Wembley. He plays a selfless role in the middle of the park; recycling play with ease and class.
His transformation from inconsistent winger to dominant central midfielder is complete. Long may these performances continue, Gini.
If you love tactical analysis, then you’ll love the digital magazines from totalfootballanalysis.com – a guaranteed 100+ pages of pure tactical analysis covering topics from the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and many, many more. Get your copy of the FIRST of two December issues for just ₤4.99 here, or the SECOND of the December issues with an annual membership right here.