One of the hottest young prospects in Dutch football, Feyenoord’s Georginio Wijnaldum is said to be on the radar of Rafa Benitez and Liverpool. So who is the Dutchman and what would he bring to the team if he was brought to Anfield in the summer? A Dutch “No. 10” by trade, Wijnaldum is from a long line of Dutch attacking midfield playmakers and has been likened to Dutch international Rafael van der Vaart in his style. Lacking interest in football as a young kid growing up in Rotterdam, he was invited to watch a match in the Eredivisie at Sparta Rotterdam and he was so inspired by the match that he took up the game himself. He became so good that he was invited to join Sparta’s youth academy. He made his way through the youth ranks of the team and impressed many scouts from the top clubs in Holland. Wijnaldum initially rejected their advances but in 2007 he moved Feyenoord, Sparta’s rivals in Rotterdam, to continue his development as a footballer.
It was not long before this very talented teenager made his debut for the first team and at aged 16 years and 148 days, he became the youngest ever player to play for Feyenoord in April 2007. Despite playing in a 4-0 loss to FC Groningen, Wijnaldum was named man of the match for his impressive display in the match as he demonstrated his great speed and skill on the ball. The 2007/08 campaign saw the young Dutchman take part as a substitute for the majority of the season, appearing ten times off the bench, but he did score his first goal for the club in a 6-0 home win against Heracles in December 2007. His real breakthrough season came last campaign as he began to start matches for Feyenoord both in the league and in Europe. Despite preferring to play central midfield in a creative playmaker role, Wijnaldum early appearances for the Rotterdam club have come at right wing.
The position currently suits Wijnaldum because of his style of play. Extremely skilful with the ball at his feet, the young Dutchman uses both his pace and superior footballing intelligence to outwit opponents. He beats players easily with his dribbling and his trickery, and his natural ability to pass the ball are demonstrated with his fantastic final ball. He is exceptionally technically gifted on the ball as well and his ability to use both feet to play a killer ball is one of his greatest attributes. Such gifted passing ability combines well with his excellent vision that makes him the ideal player to be a playmaker. Something he excels at from the right hand side of midfield. In the coming years as he matures, he will certainly want a more central role in midfield to utilise his best attributes and will want to improve on his shooting accuracy. Although he has already played 63 league games for the club, he has only scored 7 goals and although this maybe due to where he plays currently, this goal ratio should improve with age. He does however have a very good record goal scoring wise at international youth level and will want to replicate this more often at club level.
As well as being a very mature footballer technically, he is also a very level headed guy personally and asked about moves away from Feyennoord to bigger clubs in the future, he said:
“Of course it’s nice to hear that there’s interest but if I look at my future, firstly I want to be important for Feyenoord. If you want to be fully prepared for the top foreign leagues then I believe you have to have learned everything in the Eredivisie. So it requires a few more years and Dirk Kuyt is a perfect example of that when he left Feyenoord. He left the club when he had the experience and he was the best player. I’m just a beginner and have only been in the starting line up for 6 months and there’s still so much to learn.”
There are definitely areas where Wijnaldum will need to improve. At 5ft 8, he is not the tallest player in the world and will need to be able to fend off defenders so he doesn’t get muscled off the ball in bigger leagues. As mentioned above, his shooting ability will also need to improve so as to play at a top European club but at 19 years of age, valued at £8million, Liverpool could very well be buying a talented youngster with all the attributes to be capable of being a world class player.
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