The Dutch have won all but one of the 19 games in which Wijnaldum has scored.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has always been a firm believer in maintaining the core of his squad and encouraging quality performances in a suitable manner. The likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Virgil Van Dijk certainly received their fair share, having been granted lucrative contracts as they rightly deserved. However, the club’s approach turned significantly cold when it came to negotiations with a player termed by Klopp as his “most consistent” player. The footballer was none other than Netherlands midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum.
Wijnaldum had been a vital contributor for the club since moving from Newcastle United in 2016. He made a total of 237 appearances, playing a key role in helping Liverpool win the Premier League and Champions League. One of his most noteworthy performances came in a do-or-die encounter against Barcelona where the team was chasing a 3-0 deficit without the services of Salah and Roberto Firmino. The midfielder made a priceless impact in the second half, scoring two goals in quick succession to make it 3-3 on aggregate. Divock Origi thumped in the winner to seal a brilliant win for Liverpool. However, it might have been impossible if not for Wijnaldum’s heroics.
Despite his noteworthy contribution, Liverpool played hardball when it came to meeting his demands for a lucrative contract which wouldn’t be wrong to expect for a player of his calibre. Wijnaldum had further turned 30, marking the beginning of the golden years in the journey of a midfielder. Liverpool refused to budge and the player was left with no choice, but to seal a move overseas on a free transfer. Klopp hailed Wijnaldum as a player who was a club legend, with his departure leaving a “big hole”.
“It was difficult for all of us because of how much this astonishing person means to the group. He’s been a big part of our lives for so long. There is nothing I won’t miss about him. I will miss the player he is like crazy – highest-quality ability, one of the smartest players I have ever had the privilege to coach. His contribution was off the scale, a manager’s dream. But as a person he’ll leave just as big a hole. A more giving individual you could not wish to meet. Gini is very strong and opinionated, but his motivation is only to help the team – always. His teammates adored him and respected him in equal measure. Farewell, Gini: you came, you saw, you won the lot. You’re a Liverpool legend now and forever,” he said as quoted by Liverpool’s official website.
The Netherlands midfielder completed a move to French giants Paris St Germain before the beginning of the Euro 2020. The national team had failed to qualify for the 2018 edition of the World Cup, making a good start to the tournament all the more important. The Netherlands would have been optimistic of an easy opener against Ukraine, considering the fine form of the national team in recent times.
However, they were made to work hard following a frantic first half. Georgiy Bushchan’s smart reflexes made it extremely difficult for Netherlands with Denzel Dumfries’ failure to convert a gilt-edged back-post header resulting in even more tension in the air. However, Wijnaldum gave the world an indication of his prowess in the second half, stepping up in the role of a captain.
The midfielder pounced on a rebound after the visiting keeper had intercepted a cross from the right, gifting his team a priceless opener in a game that enjoyed a lot of competitiveness. That goal marked the first goal by the Netherlands at a World Cup/ European Championship in 2528 days, when Wijnaldum himself scored at the World Cup 2014. The midfielder recorded his 15th goal in his last 26 appearances for the Netherlands, capping it off with a tribute to injured teammate Virgil van Dijk.
Wijnaldum continued to play the role of a captain to perfection, maintaining his composure with a vital role in Wout Weghorst’s instinctive finish just before the hour. While Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk scored equalising goals in quick succession, the midfielder continues to press enabling Dumfries to enjoy the final word with a winner.
Wijnaldum has been a lucky charm for his team as evident from the fact that the Netherlands have won all but one of the 19 games in which he has scored. It was further the nation’s first win in the Euros since the 2008 edition.
Barcelona were one of the teams who were involved in negotiations with the midfielder, opting not to offer a suitable contract to the player. The club has been guilty of some faulty decision making in recent times, which has had a direct impact on their fortunes. This move seems to be another one in the same direction sadly.