FC Barcelona

Would Georginio Wijnaldum suit Barcelona?

Robbie Copeland
Jan 17, 2021, 2:00 PM GMT
Wijnaldum looks set to depart Anfield when his contract expires
Wijnaldum looks set to depart Anfield when his contract expires | Pool/Getty Images
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It's been a long time coming, but it seems we finally have some clarity on the long-term future of Georginio Wijnaldum.

Unfortunately, it's not the clarity Jurgen Klopp, or anyone of a Liverpool persuasion, would have wanted.

According to reports, the Dutchman has decided that this will be his last year at Anfield.

And while that's terrible news for Liverpool, you can already sense Barcelona's ears pricking up.

The Catalan side have been keen on Wijnaldum ever since Ronald Koeman took the reins, and the Dutch boss, who worked with him to great effect on the international stage, will be delighted to hear that the feeling is mutual. It's believed Wijnaldum has his heart set on a move to Catalonia, a reunion with his former boss, and one last big payday before his talents begin to wane.

If WIjnaldum's time at Liverpool has taught us anything about him, it's that he is one of the most diverse and adaptable players around. His work-rate and professional attitude make him a manager's dream - so the question isn't really if he would fit in at Barcelona, but where.

If Koeman is still the Barca manager by next season - a big if, with the presidential election to come in March - then you only have to take a look at Koeman's Netherlands to see that Wijnaldum's future looks very exciting indeed.

Since returning to Barcelona, Koeman has mirrored the tactical setup he used with Oranje, dispersing with the club's traditional possession-based football in favour of a more direct, pragmatic approach. Such an approach allowed him to get the best out of Wijnaldum's attacking attributes - he scored ten goals in 17 appearances under Koeman, compared to just 21 in 211 under Klopp.

Given that Koeman has carried his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation over from country to club, it's reasonable to think the Barcelona midfield could come to directly replicate Koeman's Holland - Frenkie de Jong supporting from deep, while Wijnaldum causes havoc with his close control and direct running ability in the number ten role.

Wijnaldum's primary selling point, though, is that he is not fixed to that. While Koeman will relish the opportunity to bring the best out of him in the attacking third, Barcelona will see him as an evergreen asset who can play a part no matter who is in charge,

He's the perfect midfielder, technically proficient and near impossible to dispossess, but he is also a leader, despite being one of the quieter voices on the pitch. At Liverpool, he sets the standards with his work rate and holds those around him to account. It's for this reason that he almost never misses a game - Klopp sees his presence as indispensable.

Would Xavi, for instance, turn his nose up at a player like that? Or would a change in management just make Wijnaldum, a model professional with a dextrous and malleable list of talents, just become all the more important during a period of transition?

Players leaving Liverpool typically haven't fared well in the recent past, but this one seems safer. Wijnaldum wants the move for the right reasons, and the risk of it blowing up in Barcelona's face is about as small as it gets - it's a free transfer for one of the most level-header, consistent players on the planet.

Would he suit Barcelona? He would suit anyone.

It's down to Barcelona to prove that they suit Wijnaldum, whose hunger for success is going nowhere despite his Anfield exit.

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