Liverpool have agreed a fee in the region of £25million with Newcastle for midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and the player is set to undergo a medical.
According to Sky Sports, the 25-year-old is set to sign a five-year deal with the Anfield club and will travel to Merseyside for his medical today, which is expected to last two days.
Wijnaldum made his last appearance for the Magpies in their 2-2 draw with Doncaster Rovers on Wednesday night.
Newcastle signed the midfielder for £14.5million a year ago from PSV Eindhoven. Despite relegation, there has been no pressure for the club to sell Wijnaldum as Newcastle are in no financial trouble, instead the club have stood firm and bagged themselves more than a £10million profit.
The Dutch international impressed in his debut season in England and scored 11 goals in 38 appearances – he’s also represented the Netherlands 30 times scoring six goals.
Although Wijnaldum was unable to help Newcastle retain top flight football next season he certainly showcased some very impressive performances last season, finishing the season as Newcastle’s leading goalscorer with 11 goals, scoring four of them in a 6-2 demolishment of Norwich City.
Rafael Benitez was appointed the Magpies boss midway through the season and was also unable to secure the club safety. Being one of the most respected managers in Europe winning the Champions League and managing at the highest level the Magpies faithful will be delighted he has gone on to sign a new deal at Newcastle. His presence has however not been enough to convince Wijnaldum to stay.
Newly-appointed Toffees manager Ronald Koeman was also reportedly keen to bring his Dutch compatriot with him to Goodison Park this summer, but no bid materialised from Liverpool’s fierce rivals and now Jurgen Klopp has seemingly won the race for his signature.
Liverpool have already signed Sadio Mane to play on the wings and already have many versatile players in their squad able to fill in too, so Wijnaldum could find himself in central midfield alongside Emre Can. If that is the case he will certainly need to work on his defensive contribution. With such an attacking midfield, and Sturridge, Origi and Firmino as attacking options, it may be worth checking the latest betting odds on Liverpool to be top scorers next season.
Wijnaldum certainly loves to run at defenders which makes him very hard to defend against, this is a trait Klopp will look to use to his advantage. Surging runs either from a deeper role or playing in the number 10 position will get the best out of Wijnaldum. His ability to cut inside or go outside with equal ease is an aspect of his game which remains his strongest but he needs to work on disposal of the ball.
Wijnaldum possesses impeccable technique, he is an excellent dribbler and has bags of explicit skills in his locker, something Klopp will like to see, especially considering he already has similar players in Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino in his ranks.
Wijnaldum predominantly plays on the left, but can be used on the right with the advantage to cut in and use his favoured left foot. His versatility certainly makes him a beneficial signing with the player capable of playing three different positions quite comfortably. Wijnaldum can also play centrally and as soon as he gets the ball he wants to dribble, his impressive power on the flanks saw him be successful with 60.24% of his take ons last season. One thing that could be improved in Wijnaldum’s play is his final ball, although this could be worked on, he still managed to create 1.37 chances per 90 last season.
Serie A giants Roma were also in the hunt for Wijnaldum as they looked to fill a hole in their squad which Miralem Pjanic left, but Liverpool boss Klopp will be delighted Liverpool have all but won the race for their man.
£25million is a hefty price and Newcastle have certainly done well to receive such a large amount considering they were releagted and the player was pushing to leave.
Sky Sources have also reported that Joe Allen is set to join Stoke City for £13million, so Liverpool may want to deploy Wijnaldum in a deeper role if he is viewed as a direct replacement for the Welshman.
In terms of how Allen and Wijnaldum compare, Allen certainly excels over the Dutchman in defensive areas. The Welsh international managed 2.27 tackles and 1.67 interceptions per 90 last season in comparison to Wijnaldum who managed just 0.88 and 0.77. Wijnaldum, as you’d expect, just edges Allen in terms of goals per 90 (0.31 vs. 0.24) and assists (0.14 vs. 0.12). It’s clear the two players are different, but if Emre Can plays a more defensive role then it could free up Wijnaldum to express his creative instincts alongside the German at the base of the Liverpool midfield.
Liverpool are now well stocked for attacking midfield talent and they may need to sell a few players in order to give the squad more balance. There is currently a lack of defensive-minded midfielders in the squad, whilst there are several players competing to play in attacking midfield and on the wings. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how Klopp lines up his team when they travel to the Emirates on the opening day of the Premier League.