Gini Wijnaldum has revealed that Virgil van Dijk told him “I want a goal” ahead of Liverpool’s 4-0 win over Wolves, to which he duly obliged and dedicated to the No. 4.
Wijnaldum was near his very best as the Reds put the European-chasing Wolves to the sword at Anfield, with 2,000 supporters in attendance for the first time in the best part of a year.
Also watching on was Van Dijk, who took his place behind the substitutes’ bench along with the likes of James Milner, Rhys Williams and Vitezslav Jaros, who were not part of the squad but were present to back their team-mates.
Van Dijk spoke to the squad in the dressing room prior to kickoff, and had a specific request from his fellow Dutchman, who has been emulating the centre-back’s celebration every time he scores during his long layoff.
After firing the second in a four-goal thrashing of Wolves, Wijnaldum wheeled away pointing to Van Dijk in the stands, and speaking to LFCTV after the game, he revealed their conversation:
“I said that every goal that I score this year, I’m going to dedicate to him.
“We all miss him. It was great to have him back.
“He said to me in the dressing room ‘I want to see something today, I want a goal’, so I said ‘no problem!’.”
Wijnaldum was starting his 11th consecutive game in the space of five weeks on Sunday night, but the midfielder – whose performance has led to heightened calls for a new contract – insisted he is “loving playing games”:
“I’m loving playing games, I’m loving playing games for Liverpool, for this team.
“I’m lucky, I’m blessed that I’m fit until now. I’m just enjoying the moment.
“I can also look like, yeah we play a lot of games, it’s hard and difficult, but I try to look on the bright side of it.
“You can play a lot of games, because we’re all footballers to play games. So I just enjoy it.”
Wijnaldum was joined on the scoresheet by Mohamed Salah and Joel Matip, with Sadio Mane denied a goal of his own after his scramble to convert Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s cross eventually led to a Nelson Semedo own goal.
For the Liverpool squad, to have 2,000 fans roaring them on was a major lift, which was clear as the likes of Jordan Henderson, Neco Williams and Andy Robertson took to social media:
A performance for the fans, we’ve missed you ?? pic.twitter.com/twlSWgUERj
— Jordan Henderson (@JHenderson) December 6, 2020
Hope you enjoyed that one reds ? great feeling to have our 12th man back at Anfield. pic.twitter.com/6y13jOsa5n
— Neco Williams (@necowilliams01) December 6, 2020
Fans, we have missed you!!! ?? #YNWA pic.twitter.com/CUJ07OurdK
— Andy Robertson (@andrewrobertso5) December 6, 2020
What a night to have the fans back ???We’ve missed you ?? #YNWA #LIVWOL pic.twitter.com/ExHFykqSdB
— Gini Wijnaldum (@GWijnaldum) December 6, 2020
Back with a win and fans at Anfield. Perfect. ?? pic.twitter.com/Z6RKlqv1f0
— Trent Alexander-Arnold (@TrentAA) December 6, 2020
Glad to have the fans back at home. Great performance and a special night for everybody. Let's go! ??? pic.twitter.com/6US01zmlGz
— Fabinho (@_fabinhotavares) December 6, 2020
Hope you all enjoyed that one! +3 ? on to the next…… pic.twitter.com/yjjUKA3EVV
— Curtis Jones (@curtisjr_10) December 6, 2020
There was also praise from a host of those absent, including Thiago, who has been lesser-spotted during his long time on the sidelines with a knee injury:
?And great to hear the fans again #YNWA #welcomehomereds pic.twitter.com/sZsudiirwJ
— James Milner (@JamesMilner) December 6, 2020
What a team!! Great to se the fans back at home! ??? https://t.co/cYBAwPENsr
— Alisson Becker (@Alissonbecker) December 6, 2020
???? #YNWA https://t.co/yA3VxIxC29
— Thiago Alcantara (@Thiago6) December 6, 2020
Having reclaimed joint-top place in the Premier League, Liverpool now must shift their focus back to the Champions League – albeit with Wednesday night’s trip to Midtjylland being a dead-rubber.
After that it is an away clash with Fulham, with Jurgen Klopp eager to keep up momentum as the Reds push through a difficult time with injuries and a ridiculous schedule.