(Reuters) – Georginio Wijnaldum is learning to curb his attacking instincts and play in a deeper position for Liverpool so he can allow his fellow midfielders more freedom on the pitch, the Dutch international has said.
Wijnaldum started both of Liverpool’s Premier League matches this season in a withdrawn midfield role, tasked with protecting a back line featuring Virgil van Dijk but missing the experienced Dejan Lovren due to a pelvic injury.
“It’s more difficult than it looks because sometimes on the pitch I also want to run forward and to help the attack as well and even score a goal,” Wijnaldum told the club’s website.
“But when you’re playing in that position it’s not always possible so you have to keep the balance… but I enjoy playing in that position, it’s going quite well.”
Wijnaldum anchored Liverpool’s midfield in their season-opening 4-0 home win over West Ham and his composure in the role was more evident in the 2-0 win at Crystal Palace on Monday.
The 27-year-old is, however, welcoming the increased competition for a places in Juergen Klopp’s side this season with Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Adam Lallana and Naby Keita all vying for starting spots in a three-man midfield.
“Yes, I think (the competition is there) especially at the start of the season because everyone wants to play, everyone is fit and fresh so everyone is fighting for their place and I think that’s a good thing,” Wijnaldum added.
“It’s always good if the manager trusts you and it’s always good if he tries to help you to become a better player, or in this case to make the next step. I’m always happy with that.”
Liverpool will look to continue their perfect start to the season when they host Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield on Saturday.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)