Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I've Grown as a Player since Reds Move - Gini

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I've Grown as a Player since Reds Move - Gini

Article excerpt

GINI Wijnaldum has been one of Liverpool's stars players so far this season, but things could have turned out very different for the Netherlands international had it not been for Jurgen Klopp.

The Reds are currently top of the Premier League table and yet to lose a league game, with the 27-year-old featuring in all 10 of their matches so far. However, Wijnaldum could easily have ended up playing for one of the chasing pack when leaving relegated Newcastle United in July 2016.

Prior to Klopp's arrival at Anfield, Liverpool fans had become accustomed to missing out on their primary transfer targets to league rivals, with the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Willian and Clint Dempsey ended up elsewhere despite Reds interest.

However, the tide has started to turn under the German in recent seasons, with Wijnaldum one such player to snub one of the Reds' rivals, in this case Tottenham Hotspur, in favour of a move to Anfield.

Speaking to the PFA, the midfielder has lifted the lid on meeting Mauricio Pochettino and revealed why a move to North London didn't happen - crediting Klopp for the role he played in landing his signature.

"I had a really good conversation with Pochettino," Wijnaldum revealed. "But we didn't come to an agreement. Not just me - Newcastle also didn't come to an agreement with Tottenham.

"When I spoke with Jurgen he made me feel really good. He gave me a lot of confidence because he said he liked my way of playing football.

"Three days after our meeting they had reached a deal and I didn't think twice.

"This is one of the biggest clubs in the world. I wanted to make the transfer and I'm happy that I did."

Signing as an attacking midfielder, the Dutchman has been transformed into a deep-lying midfielder by Klopp during his time at Anfield.

Such versatility has cemented his importance at Anfield, with only Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino bettering his total of 50 starts for the club last season, while he made his 100th Reds appearance last month in the Premier League draw with Chelsea. …

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