After an underwhelming run of results in the Premier League in recent weeks, Liverpool were back to their brilliant best last night in the Champions League.
On a tense night in Germany, a brace by Sadio Mane either side of a thunderous headed goal by the imperious Virgil Van Dijk saw the Reds secure their place in the quarter-finals of the competition with a 3-1 aggregate victory over Bayern Munich.
In what had all the hallmarks of being a tough showdown with the Bundesliga leaders at the Allianz Arena, Jurgen Klopp’s side outlined why they are one of the most dangerous sides in Europe this season.
With the Merseyside-based club just one point and one position below leaders Manchester City in the domestic standings, they have a real chance of securing their first league and European cup double since 1984.
The last team to achieve such a feat in England was Manchester United in 2008 as Sir Alex Ferguson lead them to the Premier League title before beating Chelsea via a penalty shoot-out in the Champions League final in Moscow.
For this particular Liverpool side to create their own slice of history, they will need to rely on the availability of a player who undoubtedly keeps their midfield ticking.
Georginio Wijnaldum has been exceptional for Klopp’s side this season and is an essential part of the foundations of which the core of the team is built upon.
The decision to bring in the Dutchman from Newcastle United for a fee reported by the Guardian to be in region of £25m in 2016 has been somewhat of a masterstroke as he may hold the key for Liverpool to win the double this season.
Alongside Alisson Becker in goal, Van Dijk in defence and Mane and Mohamed Salah in attack, the Dutchman has proved to be irreplaceable yet has not received the same level of recognition as his team-mates.
Not only has Wijnaldum dropped into a deeper role this season to accommodate the likes of Naby Keita and Fabinho but he has also improved considerably in a defensive sense and can now be referred to as a true box-to-box midfielder.
Indeed the 28-year-old may not be as lethal in attacking scenarios compared to his brief spell with Newcastle United in 2016 but he does have a habit of scoring on big occasions for the Reds.
Wijnaldum’s goal at the Stadio Olimpico last season against AS Roma secured Liverpool’s passage into the Champions League final whilst he has also delivered crucial contributions against the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Pep Guardiola’s City during his Anfield career.
The Netherlands international’s absence from the Reds’ FA Cup and Carabao Cup clashes against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea saw his side lose both games. Contrast this with the fact that he has been present in all but three of Liverpool’s Premier League games this season in which they have lost just once and you start to notice a pattern.
Wijnaldum’s dedication to providing on a consistent basis for his side in the heart of midfield during this year’s campaign means that if he were to suffer a serious injury, it could have a damning impact on the outcome of the Reds’ season.
Whereas the likes of Barcelona, City and Juventus have a myriad of options to pick from, Klopp’s lack of choice in central midfield has been severely hampered by injuries to Keita, Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain throughout the campaign.
Therefore, losing Wijnaldum is the last thing that the club needs as they find themselves in an enviable position to win not one, but two trophies this season.
What do you think Liverpool fans? How important has Wijnaldum been this season for your side? Could you still win the Champions League or the Premier League without him? Get in touch below.Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!
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