Over the years, The Netherlands have produced some fantastic voetballers, and have generally been miles ahead of their contemporaries in terms of tactical thought, innovation, and coaching. It’s no wonder that some of the most exciting talents in football today are Dutch. Wijnaldum is one of these talents.
Of Surinamese descent, the young attacker has always made waves in football. Right from the young age of about 9, the player captivated some of the biggest names in Holland, and clubs like PSV and Ajax were never far away. However when the youngster did leave his boy-hood club, Sparta Rotterdam, he moved to Feyenoord, which he felt would be the correct project for him.
At Feyenoord, he again made his impact felt, being selected as man of the match on his debut. Aside from this, he was also the youngest debutant in the history of Feyenoord, at only 16 years and 148 days old. An amazing feat for a youngster, as he showed no signs of nerves at all.
After some attractive performances for Feyenoord caught the eyes of big European clubs, the young man was linked with a big money move abroad. It would have surprised no one to see him go to a Barcelona, Chelsea, Juventus or a club of that stature, but the player chose wisely, and moved to PSV, in order to develop his game further, before the big step up.
Style, Strengths and Weaknesses
Wijnaldum is a very attack minded player, and can be employed on the wings, or through the center. He seems to be at his devastating best when played out wide, as he can utilise his pace and trickery to create numerous opportunities for team-mates. Being right footed, he is almost always found on the right wing, hugging the touch-line, and working in accordance with his full back to create space.
Physically, Wijnaldum can be a definite challenge for defenders. His pace is electrifying to say the very least, and is his biggest asset. He often uses this sort of speed to run behind, and at defenders. Such pace often forces opposition players deeper, and if used strategically (like in the center) he can cause a number of problems, as a deeper opposition defence would open space for passing and pressing, which is what the Dutch aim to do.
In terms of his ability in duels, Wijnaldum often stands at a disadvantage. His height (5 feet 9 inches) means that he cannot really be a force in the air. He cannot really bulk up too much either, as adding much muscle to him might compromise his (natural) pace and balance, which is currently his strongest ability. This means that he needs to be played out wide more often than not, as those areas are subject to less intense tackling battles, and have more open spaces to exploit with speed.
His movement is something that he has worked on well with coaches, and seems to have internalised, A number of runs that he makes are very precise, and cut through opposition defences. He is also always very alert, and positions himself well in the build up of attacks (when he isn’t on the ball), offering an outball when needed in deeper areas, and offering a penetrating run when his creative players have the ball. The latter is especially well executed by him. When opposing full backs move across to cover for their center backs, he moves into the vacant areas very swiftly.
With the ball, Wijnaldum loves to run at defenders. What makes him very dangerous is his ability to cut inside, or go outside with equal ease. The fact that he stays quite close to his full back in attack tends to confuse defenders, leaving him with time on the ball. However, he loves to go outside and attempt crosses a lot more. When he does cut inside, he shoots more often than he passes. This is a major weakness of his, as it stymies build up play, and cuts it off at crucial points. His reluctance to play through passes also stretches build up play to longer than optimum on many occasions, and denies his forwards goal scoring opportunities, while simultaneously reducing retention options.
As far as his skills on the ball go, he, like all Dutch players, possesses impeccable technique. An excellent dribbler, Wijnaldum sets himself apart with his change of direction on the ball, and the speed at which he can do so. This is a trick that most defenders find hard to handle, as it leaves them in the wrong position to win the ball. This invariably leads to a foul, or a successful dribble (unless he attempts to execute the move a little too early).
A move that he favours a lot is the cut-inside, followed by the shot. This means that a large number of his shots are from outside the box. Therefore, he needs to ensure that his shot is powerful enough to beat the keeper from a distance. Swerve and movement of the ball in the air is a bonus. Wijnaldum moves the ball viciously, but often misses power. If he can make his shots harder, and keep the swerve, he will be a dangerous proposition (such ability requires defenders to push up and close down, leaving space in behind them).
Mentally, Wijnaldum seems like a mature person. It would have been very easy for a youngster at Rotterdam to let the attention get to him and move to a bigger club, but Wijnaldum made a brave decision to stick around in the Eredivisie, and this move has only accelerated his development. If one can raise question marks about his temperament, it would be with respect to his attitude towards tracking back. He often goes missing in the defensive phase of the game, leaving his full back a little short-handed.
After some superlative performances at the U21 Euros in the summer, Wijnaldum has put himself in the shopping window once again. Liverpool were supposedly looking to sign him back in December/January, but there seems to be no possibility there at the moment. In truth, it is highly unlikely that Wijnaldum will not be a PSV player in September, probably due to the fact that ex-captain Strootman has just moved to Roma.
View Georginio Wijnaldum’s Soccer Wiki Profile