New Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has inherited a broken squad. He is looking forward to overhauling his team following a disastrous campaign with issues both on and off the pitch the last season. Barcelona finished the 2019-20 season without silverware for the first time since 2007-08, which is an indication of the challenging task at hand for the former Netherlands manager. Koeman is clearing some of the aging players in his team, with Ivan Rakitic having left the Nou Camp for a return to Sevilla after six years. Arturo Vidal and Luis Suarez are also close to leaving the club, per reports. In the absence of Vidal, Barcelona needs another body in midfield. Koeman is keen to bring in his type of players, and one name that’s lingering around the Nou Camp is Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum.
According to reports, the Dutch midfielder could be Koeman’s first marquee signing in Barcelona. Koeman has reportedly asked the Barcelona board to deliver him the midfielder’s signature. Wijnaldum is nearing the final year of his current contract with the Premier League champions Liverpool and is yet to agree or sign an extension at the club despite several months of negotiations. His contract situation has alerted Koeman to capitalize on the contract impasse. Wijnaldum moved from Newcastle to Liverpool in 2016 and has been an excellent servant since his arrival, scoring 19 goals in 186 appearances with his last goal to date coming in their 5-3 win over Chelsea.
Is Wijnaldum a player Barcelona Needs?
Ronald Koeman wants to be reunited with Wijnaldum at the Nou Camp, having worked with him in the Netherlands national team set-up. Wijnaldum is being drafted as a culture changer as much as he is a schematic fit for Koeman’s style. Koeman has a unique style of setting up his team. As coach of the Dutch national team, Koeman insisted on his team moving the ball a little quicker. The midfield block of Frankie de Jong and Wijnaldum made Koeman’s style of football success. In the Holland team, Wijnaldum played as the most advanced midfielder and thrived in that role, offering a real goal threat. Wijnaldum scored a couple of goals for the national team in the Euro 2020 qualification round. Wijnaldum is a tactically astute midfielder who has a more calming presence on the pitch and is aware of the situation. He knows when to push forward and when he should stay back. Wijnaldum is one of the best in Europe when it comes to ball retention and efficiency of passing. He has a good sense of danger, and he covers very well for his teammates in vacated spaces. He also makes a substantial number of tackles, winning 29 out of 37 last season. In addition to his defensive work, Wijnaldum is also aerially good. He would provide Barcelona a different dynamic in terms of set-pieces tactics and improve the mobility in the midfield. Making the potential switch to Barcelona would see him take up the same role as he performs for Liverpool and Netherlands.
If Liverpool let Wijnaldum go, they would be losing one of their chief midfield players, and that’s going to be a big blow. Wijnaldum played a massive role in Liverpool’s recent successes, often acting as a counterbalance in midfield. His brace against Barcelona in the 2018-19 Champions League semi-final was the moment Liverpool gained their sense of invincibility. He is an integral member of Klopp’s first team and not just a passenger. Since he arrived in 2016, only Roberto Firmino has played more minutes than the Dutch midfielder. His constant availability for such a physically demanding role was crucial in letting Jurgen Klopp establish a high intensity to Liverpool’s play. Several football fans are of the view that Liverpool is one of the best teams around after winning the champions league two seasons ago and also winning their first premier league title in 3 decades. As such, why would Wijnaldum opt to go to a club that is in a state of disarray?
Others are of the view that Barcelona is still a big club out there, and it would make sense for Wijnaldum to make a move because he has a good relationship with Koeman. It is also a dream for every player to play for Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Wijnaldum spent eight years in his native country Holland, becoming the youngest ever player to play for Feyenoord before moving to PSV Eindhoven. He has spent six years in the Premier League, splitting the time between Newcastle and Liverpool. He is almost 30, and it seems like a good time for a change.