Liverpool, like the rest of the Premier League, may be on a kind of lockdown — but that hasn’t stopped Georginio Wijnaldum reflecting on how he has seen his game development flourish under Anfield head coach Jurgen Klopp.
The Reds were top of the top-flight table by a whopping 25 points (with Manchester City in second having a single game in hand) and destined to collect the prize that has eluded them for 30 years… then the coronavirus pandemic struck.
The latest news on the shutdown came this week when the FA, Premier League and EFL released a statement saying:
“We are in unprecedented times and our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19. We are united in our commitment to finding ways of resuming the 2019/20 football season and ensuring all domestic and European club league and cup matches are played as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.
“We have collectively supported UEFA in postponing EURO 2020 to create space in the calendar to ensure domestic and European club league and cup matches have an increased opportunity to be played and, in doing so, maintain the integrity of each competition”.
The FA’s Rules and Regulations state that the season will terminate not later than the 1 June but the powerbrokers have agreed for this limit to be extended indefinitely for the current season.
in the meantime, Wijnaldum will be fully focused when the action starts again. And he will be a better player to contribute to the cause than he was when he joined the Merseysiders four years ago, thanks to Klopp. He told the club’s official website:
“My development since I came to Liverpool has been good,”
“I have become more of an all-round player. I was used to playing in a very attacking role and only in attack. Since the World Cup with Louis van Gaal in 2014, I have had a more controlling role in midfield and that went well. After that, I didn’t play that role again, at PSV or Newcastle.
“When I spoke with Klopp, he saw me in a more defensive role, where I needed to be an all-rounder. It’s not always easy as I am used to attacking, but it has helped in my development. I am a more complete player now than I was when I arrived.”
Wijnaldum is happy to admit that he has benefitted personally by Klopp’s influence but perhaps more important, he argues, is the impact that the German has had on the Kop giants, adding:
“He has brought the club back to where it used to be and he brought his vision to the club, and I have to say his vision fits the club. The players adore him, of course, because he cares about the players and he is a good coach, a coach who improves his players and he is a great person to work with.”