Study finds ‘perfect’ Georginio Wijnaldum transfer repeat for Liverpool with ‘$32m’ price tag.
Liverpool have not signed a senior midfielder on a permanent deal since they let Georginio Wijnaldum go on a free transfer at the end of the 2020/21 season.
Three journalists have used data to pick out Liverpool’s two ‘best’ options to finally replace Georginio Wijnaldum.
Wijnaldum left Liverpool at the end of the 2020/21 season when his contract expired, sealing a move to Paris Saint-Germain.
In his five years with the club, he made 237 appearances and helped the Reds win both the Premier League and the Champions League.
Liverpool, however, has not signed any senior midfielders on permanent deals since the Dutchman departed.
Writing for The Athletic, Andy Jones, Mark Carey and Liam Tharme identify ‘ball retention, link-up play volume and defending impact’ as Wijnadum’s three standout attributes.
They were looking at the data from the 2019/20 season, when the midfielder clocked up nearly 2,500 minutes for a Liverpool side that won the title with 99 points.
They then searched for center midfielders with more than 500 minutes played this season who posted above-average Smarterscout scores in each of those categories.
The two players that emerged were Pedri of FC Barcelona and Joe Willock of Newcastle United.
Pedri, 20, is regarded as one of the best young midfielders in Europe, having won the ‘Golden Boy’ award and Kopa Trophy in 2021, and earned a place in the La Liga Team of the Season in 2021/22.
He was also named the Young Player of the Tournament at Euro 2020 after Spain reached the semi-finals.
The academy graduate signed a new contract at the Camp Nou in June 2021 which reportedly includes a $1.1bn (£880m/€1bn) release clause (via CBS Sports).
23-year-old Willock, meanwhile, is currently in his second full season with Newcastle after a $30m (£25m/€28m) permanent move in August 2021. According to Transfermarkt, his value has since crept up, and now stands at $32m (£26m/€29m).
He’s helped the Magpies establish themselves as Champions League contenders this term and is under contract at St James’ Park until June 2027. Raiding Newcastle now is far harder than it was in the Wijnaldum days, but Liverpool have apparently found their ‘perfect’ replacement at last.