The Premier League has been a strong platform for several Dutch internationals to prove that they are capable of performing at the highest level in recent years. The likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Edwin van der Sar, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Dirk Kuyt and Robin van Persie have all succeeded in leaving a lasting impression at their respective clubs and will be remembered for producing some truly spectacular moments in the English top flight.
A young group of Dutchmen have entered the current Premier League cauldron, with Memphis Depay and Daley Blind employed by Manchester United, Vincent Janssen a new recruit at Tottenham Hotspur and now Georginio Wijnaldum at Liverpool. The former PSV Eindhoven talisman was at Newcastle United last season and was their top scorer in all ill-fated campaign, culminating in relegation to the Championship. An impressive tally of 11 goals earned him a big money move to Merseyside and given his international pedigree, there will be plenty of hype surrounding the 25-year-old.
All that said and done, his first season in England was not as successful as some may have thought. Four of Wijnaldum’s 11 goals were scored in a 6-2 home defeat of Norwich City and none of the remaining seven strikes came in an away match for Newcastle. Wijnaldum has been heavily criticised for his inability to influence proceedings in away games and was labelled a passenger far too often by the Newcastle faithful last year. His inconsistency and tendency to disappear in important events of the game were well documented and his recent outing at Burnley and that was a testament to those unwanted tags.
Following an ideal start to his Liverpool career with an assured display against Arsenal, Wijnaldum invoked memories of his dismal Newcastle away days with yet another ineffective performance. With the visitors struggling to break down Burnley’s stubborn defence, it became evident they needed a change in the formation in the second half. Having begun the game on the left-hand side of a three-man midfield, Wijnaldum was nowhere to be seen in those pivotal moments for Liverpool. His only contribution to the side was the addition of a bunch of simple, unnecessary passes to the total count for the day.
The only key passes he played resulted in harmless, long range efforts from his colleagues. Wijnaldum simply couldn’t figure out how his presence on the pitch was helping the team and that may have triggered his spell of hibernation. A 92% pass accuracy is only lauded if said passes are forward and tricky for the opponents to deal with. Simply put, Liverpool would not have fared any differently at Turf Moor had the Dutchman taken the day off.
If Wijnaldum is to establish himself as a key player in Jürgen Klopp’s squad, he must add value to his side in his capacity as a box-to-box midfielder. Performances of this nature at this level are unacceptable and for a new recruit worth 25 million pounds, shameful. The ‘Gini’ ought to pull out a magic lamp soon.