Settling into life on Merseyside by lunching with Kenny Dalglish, learning from Jürgen Klopp, and securing a top-four spot – it hasn’t been a bad first season at Liverpool for Georginio Wijnaldum.
The midfielder played 42 games and scored six goals during his opening campaign at Anfield after a transfer from Newcastle United last summer.
No strike was more important than the one on the stroke of half-time against Middlesbrough on the final day, when Wijnaldum surged into the penalty area and slammed a finish inside the near post to put the Reds in front.
Breaking the deadlock at such a pivotal time cleared away the nerves and allowed Klopp’s side to go on and claim a 3-0 victory that teed up a Champions League play-off tie in August.
The moment capped off a quietly impressive debut season for the Dutchman, too, and he has now revealed several sources of support – including nearby neighbour Dalglish.
“On a typical day with Kenny, he takes me for lunch,” Wijnaldum explained to De Telegraaf of his friendship with the Liverpool icon.
“We live close together and he tells me about the matches he has already seen me play at Feyenoord, about goals I made and about the things that appealed to him in my game.”
Klopp brought the Netherlands international to Liverpool, of course, and the No.5 – who bagged crucial goals against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal – credits both the manager and the standard of the Premier League for improving his ability.
Wijnaldum added: “Klopp is also very close [to me].
“I have an incredibly educational year behind me. Through this kind of football, such a trainer and in such a difficult competition as the Premier League, I have further developed myself as a player.”