Liverpool FC lost Georginio ‘Gini’ Wijnaldum to Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer this summer window. He was a crucial component of Jurgen Klopp’s system with his work rate, press resistance, tactical intelligence, availability and durability (averaged over 50 games every season and missed only 11 games in his Liverpool career) and leadership qualities forming the backbone of the Red’s recent success. Disappointingly, the Merseyside club did not replace him. His profile is too important to not replace is why they are expected to replace him in the future.
Keeping the aforementioned qualities in mind, here are a few players who can prove to be excellent replacement.
#5 Rodrigo de Paul
Initially, he was one of my first choices to replace Gini before he moved to Atletico Madrid. He was linked to Liverpool since January in many reports as a transfer looked possible, which ultimately did not materialize.
De Paul for Argentina (Football Espana)
The Argentine shone in the Copa America recently as Argentina went on to win it. He provided the assist for Angel di Maria’s goal with an impressive inch-perfect long pass.
His injury history is even better than Gini, with transfermarkt stating he has not suffered any injuries yet, which is surreal. Tactically, he can play in many positions from a more attacking midfield role to a more deep-lying playmaker role. His overall stats in his last season with Udinese were very impressive as he proved himself to be one of the best players in Serie A.
As he is 27, he was an unusual target despite his skill set as Liverpool has mostly targeted younger players, except in the case of Thiago Alcantara.
#4 Florian Neuhaus
The German has been linked to Liverpool for a while now. The Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder shares many qualities with Gini.
He is very press resistant and technically gifted, can play a variety of midfield roles, is an excellent passer and has even been compared to Toni Kroos.
He had a great campaign last season in Marco Rose’s 4-1-2-1-2 formation, racking up 12 goals and assists from central midfield, more than all of Liverpool’s midfielders combined.
Furthermore, he is taller than Gini, standing at 185 cm tall. There are questions about his mobility and suitability to the Premier League, but I trust Klopp to get the best out of him.
#3 Yves Bissouma
As far as like for like replacements go, Bissouma is the closest to Wijnaldum. He is already acclimatized to the intensity of the Premier League, playing for an exciting Brighton team for the last three seasons. He was heavily linked to Arsenal, but the move never happened.
Additionally, he has all the traits of the Dutch midfielder and Klopp’s coaching can turn him into an absolute beast. His injury record is impeccable and he rarely loses the ball and he is a very physical presence in the middle of the park.
The only concern with him is he will go to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in January as he plays for Mali, which can cause depth concerns as the Reds already have another midfielder Naby Keita (Guinea-Conakry) who will also be going to the AFCON.
#2 Maxence Caqueret
An unusual choice as Houssem Aouar and Lucas Paqueta are Olympique Lyon’s in-demand midfielders but Caqueret is the real jewel.
An underrated player who is not the biggest and most physical of midfielders, he uses his frame well to retain possession and to evade the press.
He also ranks in very high percentiles for both dribbles completed and attempted, showing his progressive play. His pressing numbers are also very high (with similar metrics to Chelsea’s N’golo Kante) according to Fbref, which makes him an ideal candidate for Liverpool’s high pressing midfield.
#1 Franck Kessie
Liverpool is infamously very frugal in the transfer market, so they will surely love a free agent, which Kessie will be next summer when his contract will expire with AC Milan.
Kessie (Six Sports)
A metronome of a midfielder, Kessie can do it all. He can play a variety of midfield positions and in multiple systems. ‘The President’ as he is known at the Rossoneri was always tipped for big things when he was at Atalanta.
The Ivory Coast midfielder was crucial as Milan achieved Champions League qualification after eight years and finished second in the league. He racked up twenty goals and assists in fifty appearances in all competitions for the San Siro club. Coach Stefano Pioli got the best out of him when Milan shifted to a double pivot, pairing Kessie with either Sandro Tonali or Ismael Bennacer.
The best thing is he will cost absolutely nothing if he agrees to join next summer in January or can even be signed at cut-price if the club does not want to wait.
He will be an impressive signing for the Reds.