Arriving in summer 2015, the one season spent at Newcastle United was a personal success for Gini Wijnaldum.
Stepping into the Premier League for the first time and scoring 11 goals from midfield in a team that was then relegated, you can’t really argue about that.
Many Newcastle fans will point out that he went missing far too often, especially away from home, but Wijnaldum was most definitely not one of Newcastle’s biggest problems/weaknesses that disastrous season.
If relegation hadn’t come along, it is still dubious as to how long the Dutch international would ever have stayed. He very much appeared to have fitted into that mould whereby Newcastle were allegedly attracting players from weaker European leagues with the temptation of joining NUFC and then if impressing, being able to attract one of the bigger (ambitious) Premier League clubs.
Ahead of this lunchtime’s Spurs v Liverpool kick-off, Wijnaldum has revealed that he could have joined Tottenham instead of the Scousers when jumping ship from Newcastle.
Both clubs fit into his thinking of the type of club he wanted to play for: ‘I see Tottenham as a team like us, wanting to play good football. They are always looking for solutions in the game and play as we do.’
Liverpool were widely tipped this summer as possible PL winners and with more massive investment and four wins already, they sit top of the league.
As for the club he left behind, it is not difficult to imagine that he was thinking of Newcastle when declaring: ‘With respect, we are not playing for a team that is fighting relegation thinking it is impossible.’
Over three years later and considering the massive transfer inflation that we have seen in that time, it is unbearably depressing to think that whilst in summer 2015 McClaren was given £13m+ signings Wijnaldum, Thauvin and Mitrovic. Yet Rafa Benitez wasn’t even allowed to spend £10m on any player this summer, instead relying on free transfers, loans and bargain basement signings as Mike Ashley insisted on a £20m+ profit on transfer dealings.
The only thing that hasn’t changed for Gini Wijnaldum since joining Liverpool, is that he still isn’t able to score a Premier League goal away from home…
Gini Wijnaldum speaking to the Telegraph:
“No one has to tell us what we have to do (try and win), we play for Liverpool and it is always our intention to win.
“All the players here want to compete at the top and win.
“The manager does not have to say to us, ‘we want to win a trophy’, we do not play for Liverpool not to win.
“With respect, we are not playing for a team that is fighting relegation thinking it is impossible.
“We know what we can do.
“We were so close already.
“We have done everything to win something but the fact is it is not so easy. There are a lot of good teams who also want to win the same trophies.
“I met Pochettino when I left Newcastle.
“(But) I just felt Liverpool wanted to come to an agreement quickly.
“Tottenham have shown over the years the quality of their players and manager.
“I see Tottenham as a team like us, wanting to play good football.
“They are always looking for solutions in the game and play as we do.
“That’s why people say this is a ‘big game’. In the situation we are in (trying to win the Premier League), they say it makes it bigger.”