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Liverpool No2 Lijnders: Why Klopp signed Wijnaldum

Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders has spoken of why they moved to sign Gini Wijnaldum.

Wijnaldum made the switch from PSV to Newcastle United in 2015. A year later, Liverpool coughed up €28m to buy him.

Since then, the Holland international has won the Premier League, the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. This season, Wijnaldum has managed 45 competitive appearances and struck five goals.

Lijnders admits his fellow Dutchman's impact for Newcastle quickly caught the eye of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. But it is with the Reds that Lijnders says Wijnaldum's game and impact has truly developed and improved.

"What Jürgen fell for was his drive on the ball," said Lijnders to AD via Voetbalzone. “And at the same time how Gini can pop up in the sixteen metres without the ball.

"He now also has the urge to always ask more from the team. A real personality, just like Virgil (Van Dijk).

"And Wijnaldum is preeminently such a player who fits into different roles."

Lijnders also revealed how as a makeshift striker last season, Wijnaldum learned how hard teammate Roberto Firmino worked for the team up front. The Dutchman was fielded as a striker in the first-leg of Liverpool's triumphant Champions League semifinal tie against Barcelona. A heavy defeat in Spain dramatically being overturned on a special night at Anfield.

He recalled: "We played at Barcelona last season with Gini as striker. He played very well, although we lost 3-0.

“In the dressing room, he immediately walked over to Bobby Firmino, the actual striker, who was not fit enough to start.

"He said, 'Bobby, do you do this every game? Respect! I now see how heavy it is'. That is beautiful. Everyone is responsible for everything, we say. But nothing works better than when players themselves feel what everyone's position demands.

"Not to take away their own specialism, but to experience it."

- updated July 20

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Paul Vegas

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