Liverpool could get their new Georginio Wijnaldum in January
Liverpool fans have long demanded that their team replace Georginio Wijnaldum, who left Anfield on a free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain in 2021. According to many supporters, the Dutchman was a critical component in Jurgen Klopp’s midfield for multiple successful seasons, but they couldn’t agree on a new deal and let him go without signing anyone in his place.
Sole Ibrahima Konate was bought in the same summer, as Luis Diaz joined later in January, and the Reds’ only midfield options since then have been youngster Fabio Carvalho and Arthur Melo on season-long loan. Neither are they suited to the more industrial style of play that Wijnaldum was known for among Liverpool fans, where he was more than capable of popping up with key goals.
Former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol, on the other hand, believes that now that the Reds have agreed to buy Cody Gakpo from PSV for a fee that could exceed £50 million, they have a man who can finally replace Wijnaldum.
“The more I think about it, could he be a Wijnaldum except maybe give you more goals? Because I don’t view him as a front three player,” Nicol told ESPN. “Perhaps he is the one in the middle three who provides you goals in addition to the hard work.”
Gakpo has mostly played on the left side for the Dutch this season, with 12 goals and 14 assists in the Eredivisie and Europa League, but he demonstrated his ability to play centrally under Louis van Gaal at the World Cup. He scored in each of Holland’s group stage games in Qatar, and he frequently played behind the front two in Van Gaal’s style, excelling at times in midfield.
Manchester United were supposed to be the favorites to recruit Gakpo, who had been targeted to replace Cristiano Ronaldo and play as a centre-forward under Erik ten Hag after the club terminated the Portuguese striker’s contract.
Liverpool, though, outbid their rivals for the second time in a few months on Boxing Day, having beating them to the acquisition of Darwin Nunez.
The 23-year-old is expected to travel on Merseyside for a physical ahead of a deal that will enhance Klopp’s attacking options, and he might play on the left wing while Diaz and Diogo Jota are out.
The pair are not scheduled to return to Premier League play until February, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started on that flank in Liverpool’s 3-1 win against Aston Villa on Monday, with goals from Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk, and Stefan Bajcetic.