Holland’s national team is on the rise.
Having failed to qualify for the last two international tournaments, the Oranje are slowly but surely climbing their way back to the big time.
Following a difficult transition between the side that reached the World Cup final in 2010 and the generation that stayed at home during Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, the Dutch now boast a few gems in their squad that make them relatively enviable.
The likes of Memphis Depay, Matthijs de Ligt and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk all starred in their win over Germany at the weekend and will likely be important figures for the Dutch as they aim to qualify for Euro 2020.
But perhaps the most indispensable figure is play-maker Georginio Wijnaldum.
The midfielder has been a regular feature in Liverpool’s starting line-up since joining from Newcastle in 2016, with Jurgen Klopp often using him as a holding midfielder.
But it appears he’s allowed a bit more freedom to go forward with his national team and he certainly impressed in his more offensive role – which was rounded off with an outstanding goal in the final minute of the match to settle the score at 3-0.
He even managed to embarrass Jerome Boateng in the process.
We imagine he’ll be back to playing in his deeper role for the Reds when club football returns next weekend, but Wijnaldum’s run-out as a No.10 for his national side simply shows just how versatile he really is.
In fact, during his relatively short spell at Newcastle, the Dutchman played in a number of different positions across the midfield but still managed to thrive in his debut season, finishing up as the Magpies top-scorer with 11 goals.
But in an interview with Dutch newspaper AD, the 27-year-old revealed he’s played in virtually EVERY position possible throughout his career, except as a goalkeeper.
Check out the rather jazzy graphic below.
In his younger days at Sparta Rotterdam – where his career began – and later at Feyenoord, Wijnaldum said he was occasionally used in defence – both centrally and at full-back.
At the other end of the spectrum, he was also tried out across the attacking ranks, including roles as a striker and even as a more traditional winger.
But not only is Wijnaldum willing to play in multiple positions, but he’s also quite good at it.
At Liverpool, where he’s been mostly playing as a No.6, he’s consistently shown why he’s been getting into the starting line-up ahead of club captain Jordan Henderson and new signing Fabinho.
In the Reds win over Brighton earlier in the season, his ability to dictate the play from midfield was simply outstanding as he finished the match with a passing accuracy percentage of 98.7%, misplacing just one pass out of the 76 he attempted.
And then last season of course, he was forced to play in defence alongside Emre Can and Dejan Lovren in a game against Brighton following a major injury crisis to Liverpool’s back-line.
With Joel Matip and Joe Gomez out of action and Ragnar Klavan available only from the bench, the Reds run out 5-1 winners with their make-shift back-three – although Wijnaldum later admitted he found the role difficult.
Still, at this rate, we reckon he’ll be filling in between the goal-posts before long.
- Wijnaldum’s goal for Holland will give Jerome Boateng some serious Messi-flashbacks
- Wesley Sneijder was the pure embodiment of the last brilliant Holland side
- The rise, fall, rise, fall and rise of Ryan Babel’s international career
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