Gini Wijnaldum has paid tribute to two Liverpool team-mates and the standards they set, picking their characteristics while building his “perfect midfielder”.
With the Reds currently awaiting a return to full training and action, the media world continues to dream up inventive ways of entertaining fans and keeping their websites full.
This time around, Sky Sports asked our No. 5 to build his ideal, all-round, centre of the park monster by merging the skill sets of other midfielders together.
Wijnaldum noted two current team-mates and one former Red in his picks, starting with current captain Jordan Henderson, who he effectively cites as the most influential figure he has played under.
“I’ve played with a few players who have great leadership, I have to say Kevin Strootman and Jordan Henderson were, I think, above the other ones,” he said.
“Mark Van Bommel was also a good leader and a good captain, but out of the three of them, I have to choose Henderson.
“It can be annoying [when he is shouting at players on the pitch], but it’s only to help you as a person and the team so if you think about it in that way, you always appreciate it so we are really happy with the way Henderson is.”
While there might feasibly have been a bit of recency bias or natural gravitation toward a current playing partner—Van Bommel was surely the most naturally influential player on that shortlist—it’s also worth remembering that Hendo is the skipper to have led Wijnaldum to the most success.
Already they have won the Champions League, Super Cup and Club World Cup together, as well as reached other finals, and the Premier League title will soon follow, which naturally and rightly raises the esteem a captain is held in who wins the lot.
Having also picked Andrea Pirlo’s skill, Clarence Seedorf’s strength, Xavi Hernandez’s football brain and the goalscoring traits of Frank Lampard, Wijnaldum opted for Reds legend Steven Gerrard for his passing.
Elsewhere, fellow Red James Milner was hailed as an inspiration for Wijnaldum to reach the standards of later in his career, saying he has the best engine in a midfielder.
“His engine is unbelievable. I see it in the games and in training, the way he plays and how fit he is. I hope I can reach that level too.
“He’s non-stop, I have to say when you play against him, it’s really tough because Milner is the type of player who will never stop giving everything so you always have to be 100 per cent concentrated and have to give every time 100 per cent otherwise you will lose from him. He’s a really tough competitor.”
While Milner might not be a first-choice regular any more, his standard-setting and reliability makes him a go-to for the manager any time he feels the team needs a jolt.
It’s understandable then that his team-mates see him as someone to aspire to mimick the habits of, and it’s that type of competition for places and refusal to let anybody slacken off which has seen the Reds go from strength to strength.