From a side that was relegated to a side that wants to challenge for the title. What do the stats say about Liverpool’s summer recruit from Newcastle?
There were a few raised eyebrows when Georginio Wijnaldum was bought by Liverpool, for a reported fee of £25 million in the summer, according to Sky Sports.
The Dutchman had scored 11 goals for Newcastle United but was part of a side that endured an awful Premier League campaign – culminating in their relegation from the top flight.
Jurgen Klopp clearly had a plan for him, and he started every single one of the Reds’ seven Premier League games so far this season. There were suggestions he was brought into to be a more attacking threat. A double figures goals tally from a midfielder was not to be sniffed at, and the Reds would need attacking talent from different areas of the team.
After all, they had seen a player who was capable of scoring four in a Premier League game. It may have skewed his total number of goals in terms of a typical season, but it was nonetheless impressive in a side that had struggled.
This time he seems to be more of a support act in a side that has started the season very well, and is only two points off the top of the Premier League having won five of their opening seven games – including away wins at Arsenal and Chelsea.
But what do the statistics at the same stage of both seasons tell us about his performances?
It would be wrong to say that Wijnaldum isn’t having an effect in the final third for the Reds, but as highlighted in the contrast between goals and assists during his time at Newcastle and now Liverpool, it would seem he is more of a provider with the Reds.
However, it’s clear that his lack of goals isn’t for a lack of trying given he has had more than double the amount of attempts on goal during his first seven league games with Liverpool than he did with his previous club. He probably gets more such opportunities because of how much of the ball the Reds have. Now he’s playing for a side that’s pushing towards the top of the table, while this time last year he was playing for a side that had yet to register a win.
But the following statistics could suggest how he’s more part of the midfield at Liverpool, whereas at Newcastle he was more of an attacking player.
His passing accuracy is around the same level, but he is seeing more of the ball. Being in a deeper role, and then being given the freedom to advance he can keep things ticking over – but there are times when he keeps things very simple – his lay-off for Adam Lallana’s goal against Leicester being a prime example.
Though his tackle accuracy may be lower than at Newcastle, he has won five out of his 10, while at Newcastle he’d only been stuck into five challenges. Though the may want to work on winning the ball from time to time, the willingness to get stuck into challenges is there, and despite the lack of goals his attacking threat hasn’t diminished.
Overall, Wijnaldum seems to be benefiting from the role he currently operates in at Liverpool, but he may be getting that little bit of help from those around him. Here the statistics don’t tell you that he hasn’t looked out of place at Anfield since his arrival in the summer.