Liverpool

Georginio Wijnaldum leaves Liverpool as one of Anfield's all-time greats

Robbie Copeland
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened / Pool/Getty Images
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Well, it's official. He's leaving.

Georginio Wijnaldum has played his last game for Liverpool. And if that doesn't fill you with sadness, then you should see a doctor, because something is very wrong with your brain chemistry.

Over Jurgen Klopp's five-and-a-bit years at Anfield so far, no player has given more to the cause than Wijnaldum. His constant availability and relentless industry in midfield have been the base on which everything else was built, and his composure and leadership have held things together at times when they might otherwise have fallen to pieces.

The Anfield miracle against Barcelona, for one, would not have happened without him. His two goals were enough on their own, but the comeback only truly started when he came off the bench at half-time with a fire in his belly and took the bull by the horns.

The vision of him holding off two Barça players and then turning them inside out just when he looked set to lose the ball will live forever in the minds of everyone who watched it at the time - just sheer, unparalleled brilliance.

But even more than that is the impact he has made off the pitch with his kind, affable personality. Premier League and Champions League titles aside, the big victory of Klopp era is how fans have reconnected with the club, and the infectiously likeable Wijnaldum - cheesing, pearly-white grin and all - has been at the forefront of that.

It's difficult to read Klopp's pre-match tribute to him without tearing up. The German knows he struck gold when he landed the Dutchman from Newcastle as one of his first signings, and literally doesn't have the words to express his gratitude for his contributions during his five-year Anfield rollercoaster.

"Gini Wijnaldum. An LFC legend now and forever," Klopp wrote in the matchday programme ahead of their win over Crystal Palace. "What this person – this wonderful, joyful, selfless person – has done for our team and club I cannot sum up in words, in truth, because my English is not good enough.

"He is an architect of our success. We have built this Liverpool on his legs, lungs, brain and his huge, beautiful heart. If he goes, he does so knowing we as his teammates are eternally grateful for having this special human being come into our lives. I love him and he will always be family."

Football in the social media age being what it is, there are detractors of Wijnaldum's. There are those who will rejoice if he is replaced by a younger, trendier player, citing his goal and assist numbers with a smug grin as they do so.

Wijnaldum's true value to the team, though, will only become apparent when he's gone. Once the dust settles, and the absence of one of the most consistent and influential players in the club's modern history is felt, maybe then he will get the recognition he has earned through half a decade where he has left it all on the line.

Signing off with a win and a Champions League spot, it feels like a fitting end to the Liverpool career of one of the all-time greats.

Yet while neither Wijnaldum or Liverpool can be blamed for their relationship reaching its conclusion, you can't help but wish there was more to come.

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