Dutch forward Georginio Wijnaldum has played four games for Paris Saint-Germain in their Ligue 1 campaign this season. But the former Liverpool man who helped take the Premier League title back to Anfield in 2019/20 could have signed for the French club back in 2015, instead opting to sign for Newcastle United – a decision that surprised many onlookers. But Wijnaldum showed that it was a wise career path, with experience at both ends of the Premier League table, as well as a chance to shine on the big stage with regular first-team appearances.
His time at St. James’ Park may have been brief, but he made a big impact while he was there, and became a favorite with fans despite relegation. Let’s hear the reasons he joined the Magpies from the man himself.
What happened with Paris Saint-Germain?
Wijnaldum played for PSV Eindhoven between 2011 and 2015, rejecting overtures from PSG in 2014 in favor of staying on in Holland to help their championship bid. He also wanted to continue his partnership with countryman Memphis Depay for another season. He wasn’t disappointed, as PSV took the Eredivisie title. But while PSG came knocking again, Wijnaldum was seeking more than just an iconic name to add to his resume.
“After that [winning the title with PSV], I was more open to the idea of leaving and PSG came back. But at that point I didn’t feel a real urge to sign.” he said recently, discussing his move. “I chose [instead] to go to Newcastle, who really wanted me and made me understand it.”
As well as feeling wanted by Newcastle (and less so by PSG), Wijnaldum believed that time on the pitch was preferable to the constant on-off systems favored by huge clubs – the rotation of players does have some benefits, but can also be disruptive to some.
“It was more, ‘OK, you have to play well or you want to be one among the rest.’” he says. “I was also at a point in my life when, having experienced everything in the Netherlands, I needed to keep playing.”
He joined Newcastle at a turbulent time, with dissatisfaction among fans at the chairmanship of Mike Ashley, as well as the club being involved in a dogfight at the bottom of the Premier League.
Wijnaldum insisted the move wasn’t made out of a desire to play in England’s top flight, but because the move felt right. Unfortunately, Newcastle was relegated to the Championship, and even though Wijnaldum moved to Liverpool for the next season, he’s remembered fondly among Magpies fans.
Newcastle’s season so far
The Magpies are, at the time of writing, sitting down in 15th in the EPL table, with just a point to their name. After grabbing the lead at the start of injury time in the last game, their chances of a first win against Southampton were scuppered by a 96th-minute equalizer.
So far, Newcastle has done little to give their fans encouragement that this would not be another season flirting with relegation, and another miserable, pressure-filled year for manager Steve Bruce. But, there is a long way to go, so anything can happen.
How will the season play out?
Everyone loves speculating on the Premiership season. If Leicester City taught us anything back in 2015, it is to expect the unexpected. It’s why fans and bettors across the world, from Europe to Asia to Africa and even the Middle East frequently check the online guides on the best betting options for EPL – from what type of bets to consider and what bookies to choose to odds predictions, and expert knowledge.
How Newcastle will do this season will be dependent on keeping both Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin fit. Newcastle’s form dropped badly when they were out injured in the second half of last season, and once again they provided their brightest moments in the Southampton game. The pair now account for three of Newcastle’s four goals this season.
Former Blackburn and Wales legend Robbie Savage notes that Steve Bruce is still a deeply unpopular manager, despite clawing Newcastle back to solid mid-table safety after something of a wobble. Bruce managed to finish 12th, despite a series of bad injuries and COVID-related absences in the squad. However, Savage puts the Magpies at 500-1 to lift the trophy.
Former Brighton and Hove Albion forward Glenn Murray opines that the fans and the media have been too hard on Bruce, and he ought to be cut some slack given his stodgy mid-table results. Savage agrees with the BBC’s opinion that Wilson and Saint-Maximin are crucial to the club’s fortunes, as well as singling out the returning Joe Willock. The midfielder recently came back to St James’ Park for 25 million from Arsenal, though he’s yet to make an on-field impact.
How the season plays out for Georginio Wijnaldum at PSG and for Steve Bruce’s Newcastle remains to be seen. There should be some great action for neutrals, but some well-bitten nails among fans by May.