With PSV confirming on their own site that Georginio Wijnaldum has left the team hotel to undertake a medical at Newcastle, now seems like the right time to have a look at him and see why he comes with such a big price tag.
At 24-years-old Wijnaldum has his best years ahead of him. He comes with pedigree as a Championship winner, having won the Eredivisie in 2014/2015 with PSV Eindhoven and if that is not impressive enough, he did this as the team Captain – chipping in with solid 14 goals from 33 appearances as a midfielder. Wijnaldum is affectionately known as ‘Gini’ to his fans – and with such a mouthful for a surname, you can expect Toon fans to carry this on.
Born in Rotterdam in 1990, Gini was signed by Feyenoord for their youth side and became the youngest ever player to represent their senior team at the age of 16 years and 148 days. He’d go on to appear and score on the European stage in the Uefa Cup by the time he was 18 and represented Holland at all of the junior levels.
In 2011 Gini was scooped up by PSV Eindhoven for 5-million-euros. He quickly established himself as a first teamer thanks to his drive from midfield in his favored attacking playmaker role contributing goals as well as direct and indirect assists. That season he would make his first senior appearance for Holland in an 11-0 win over San Marino – contributing with a goal despite only being put on the pitch in the 86th minute! Mark Van Bommel retired in 2013 and Gini was made Captain by new coach Phillipe Cocu. Unfortunately, he sustained a severe back injury and only made 11 appearances that season but still managed to chip in with 4 goals. Gini got over his injury to make it into the Dutch National squad for the 2014 World Cup and got on the score sheet whilst helping Holland to a 3-0 victory over Brazil in the 3rd place playoff. He’d then go on to have an exceptional season with PSV, securing the domestic title as team Captain. Including Cup competitions and Europe, Gini would make 42 appearances, scoring 18 goals and having 5 direct assists. He is also credited with being the catalyst for a lot of their other goals scored. He was so good last season, he was named Dutch footballer of the year.
So what about his attributes? At 5’8” tall, he is not the most imposing of figures – however Gini comes with blistering pace, suburb technical ability, can time his runs and get on the end of crosses and can finish with either foot. He is right footed and will happily drift onto the right wing to sling in the crosses – but he also has an eye for a pass and will thread balls through the middle if our forwards can time their runs properly. For a quick example of his wide ranging talents, click here. If you have time for a cup of tea and a proper look at his skills, click here. My favourite part of this video is at 2 minutes. It displays his leadership and drive by dropping back to his own box to defend before busting a gut to get to the other end of the pitch and finish a fantastic counter attack. Exactly the kind of drive we have not seen for a long time.
So it’s said that Newcastle have agreed to part with approximately £14 million for this talent. For a regular in a Dutch team that finished 3rd in the World Cup, for a domestic league title winning team Captain, for a player still to hit his prime, for a player with bags of ability, drive and leadership attributes – this is a more than reasonable price for a player with 3 years left to run on his current contract!
Not only is this guy set to be a catalyst for our team in terms of the way we play, he will also be a catalyst for further marquee players to join our cause – as they will recognise the clubs ambition by signing somebody like Gini and will feel more comfortable to sign for the Magpies as a result. I am not sure this signing would ever have been pulled off if Steve McClaren were not at our club for obvious reasons – so hats off to the Board for a change in getting the right coaching staff in – and loosening the purse strings for a change! There is still alot more work to do before we can expect our beloved Newcastle United to return to the top half of the table again – but this is a very promising start if the deal for Gini goes through as expected.