Gini Wijnaldum has been an excellent signing for Liverpool since trading Newcastle for Anfield in 2017.
Bringing huge amounts of intelligence and selflessness to the Reds’ midfield, the Dutchman played an integral role in last season’s Champions League win, not least with two goals against Barcelona in the semi-final second leg.
Despite Wijnaldum’s undeniable quality, he is now at a point where his place is at risk, as teammates breath down his neck.
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Anyone who doesn’t fully appreciate the 28-year-old is missing his subtle brilliance.
He largely goes under the radar in games, but his tactical expertise and team ethic make him a key cog in the machine.
The problem for Wijnaldum is that there are still occasions when that little bit more is required, in terms of stamping his authority on a game, particularly against lesser opposition.
His understated-but-effective presence is a good thing, but it isn’t always required, considering how often Liverpool dominate matches.
With Fabinho sat in front of the defence expertly, two more attack-minded midfield spots are available in Jurgen Klopp’s 4-3-3 system.
Jordan Henderson is a certainty to take up one of those positions currently, following a stellar end to last season and a strong performance against Norwich City on Friday night.
Moved from the No.6 role where he divided opinion, Klopp allowing Henderson to showcase his box-to-box energy and underrated final ball have transformed him, as has the confidence of being a Champions League winning Liverpool captain.
Form and injuries can arrive, of course, but Henderson is offering more than Wijnaldum at the moment.
Meanwhile, Naby Keita is ready to explode onto the scene this season, further putting pressure on his teammate.
He brings a level of guile and unpredictability that others around him don’t and Liverpool need to be starting him regularly.
Having Fabinho, Henderson and Wijnaldum in the same midfield can feel horribly one-dimensional on a bad day at the office.
James Milner’s enduring quality is undeniable and he is another who will want more playing time, while the returning Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also available.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, like Keita, can break the lines with his running – something Wijnaldum rarely achieves.
Klopp will rotate his midfield throughout the season, so there arguably isn’t necessarily a ‘best’ trio in that area, but it will become clear who his favourites are as the months pass.
Some individuals are more suited for certain matches, but it doesn’t change the fact that Wijnaldum just needs to be doing a little bit more in some games, as the Norwich win showed.
In the past, he was good enough to retain his place performing at this level, but with others raring to go and threatening to produce more in an attacking sense, he could do with going up another gear.