Did Gini Wijnaldum make a mistake by choosing PSG’s riches over regular Liverpool berth?

Liam Wraith wonders if Wijnaldum’s recent comments are an indication that the Dutchman is already regretting leaving Anfield for the French giants.

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There has been lots of evidence in the past that the grass isn’t always greener away from Liverpool.

Two particularly obvious examples in recent times include Philippe Coutinho and Emre Can – both of whom have had mixed spells after leaving the club in what appeared to be rather forceful manners.

Georginio Wijnaldum could be the latest player to be learning this lesson, having publicly admitted he isn’t all that enamoured with his new Parisian life.

Despite being a regular under Jürgen Klopp for years, the Dutchman decided to turn down a new contract at Anfield and take on a new challenge in the French capital.

He has made nine appearances in the league so far for new employers Paris Saint-Germain, though four of the last five have been only brief cameos.

Meanwhile, in the Champions League, one 12-minute run-out against Manchester City and less than half-an-hour against RB Leipzig followed the ignominy of being hooked at half-time as the French giants struggled at Club Brugge.

It’s a stark contrast to his final season on Merseyside, when he played a part in all 38 league games and was rarely substituted, such was the trust his manager placed in him.

Cautiously optimistic?

In a recent interview with NOS, Wijnaldum said: “I can’t say I am completely happy [in Paris], because the situation is not what I wanted… I was really looking forward to this next step and this happens. It is very difficult.”

Such quotes display an obvious unhappiness at his start in the French capital, which will make Liverpool fans wonder if the Dutchman did make a mistake in leaving Merseyside.

The former Newcastle star’s arrival in Paris was received well by fans of PSG and Ligue 1 alike, and was hailed as a great piece of business on a free transfer. After being such a dependable player for the Reds since he arrived in 2016, there is no wonder Mauricio Pochettino was quick to act to ensure his future lied under his tutelage.

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However, after all the optimism of being acquired in what was a major summer transfer window for PSG – it’s not ever year Lionel Messi comes through the door – opportunities have been very limited for the 30-year-old midfielder.

Wijnaldum featured for just 135 minutes across all competitions for the Ligue 1 leaders in September, out of a possible 540 – a sorry number considering all the optimism that was built around Gini’s transfer to Les Parisiens. It is only early in his spell in France so it is probably too early to say that the transfer is a failure, but it has certainly been a tough start.

Do Liverpool miss him?

Wijnaldum was very dependable for Klopp and one of his go-to players at times of difficulty. His ability to play a variety of roles in midfield and come up with a big goal at the big moment was always going to be a big loss for the squad.

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However, offering a big contract on big wages was always going to be a big risk for a player in his early 30s. It isn’t an old age by any stretch, but when someone is demanding large wages at that stage of their career a financial decision has to be made.

Many believed in the summer transfer window that a midfielder would have been top of the shopping list in order to fill the void left by the Dutch international. However, such a signing wasn’t forthcoming, with Ibrahima Konaté the only arrival at Anfield in the summer.

The failure to acquire the services of a dependable midfielder who could play a large number of games appeared to leave Liverpool a midfielder short. The reliance on ageing and injury-prone midfielders like James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keïta will by worrying to many Liverpool fans.

However with the early rise of Harvey Elliott before his ankle injury and the step up from Curtis Jones since the start of the season, it appears Liverpool have been able to cope without the Dutchman.

Thiago has continued to struggle with injuries and Harvey Elliott is out for an extensive length of time, but so far there has been no sign of Liverpool missing Wijnaldum – the Reds remain the only unbeaten team in the Premier League.

Did Wijnaldum make a mistake?

Money was always the deciding factor in the Wijnaldum transfer saga, with Liverpool sticking to their guns and unwilling to break their wage structure in order to keep the former PSV midfielder.

Thus meaning, Wijnaldum was forced to look elsewhere in order to be able to secure a larger pay packet for his services. If money was the main motive in his desire to leave, then it would be appear he has not made a mistake as no one in Europe is able to match the same riches that PSG can offer.

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On the other hand, if the Dutch international left for a new challenge and in belief that he could be valued more elsewhere like Coutinho and Can before him… this is likely to have not been the case. Wijnaldum was adored by Klopp, the fans and everyone involved with the club and many believed he secured legend status in his five years on Merseyside.

The love Liverpool supporters have for players is hard to replicate elsewhere as loyalty is valued, no matter how passionate other fans are. While criticism is something that all footballers face from fans, it didn’t mean Wijnaldum was any less loved by fans despite increasing criticism in his final year at Liverpool.

It is too early to say for sure that Wijnaldum made a mistake in joining PSG with less than a third of the season gone in Ligue 1. More opportunities and minutes will be afforded to the Dutchman and Pochettino is evidently a big fan after admitting he tried to sign Gini while he was in charge of Spurs.

Both Idrissa Gana Gueye and Ander Herrera are in red hot form, and Marco Verratti has just returned from injury meaning competition is fierce in the Paris midfield. With time it is likely Wijnaldum will see himself much more in the running for a starting position despite a rocky start to life in France.

However, if Wijnaldum had stayed it would be hard to believe he wouldn’t have started the majority of games this season for Klopp and found himself a key player in what looks to be another Liverpool team that means business. This could be another stellar example of the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere, especially when Klopp is in charge at Anfield.


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