Why James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum have a key role to play this season?
Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner have been silent performers for Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp. These two in the middle of the park have been phenomenal in the first three games of this season. But, did they make the headlines? Not really! The displays they put in sometimes go unnoticed because they do not stand in the limelight of the team more often than not.
Wijnaldum earned his trade at Feyenoord, before having stints at PSV and Newcastle. During the summer of 2016, the Reds showed interest to secure the services of the 27-year-old for a fee of 25 million. He was handed number 5 shirt upon his personal request.
On the other hand, James Milner kick-started his reign with Leeds United and showed his meteoric rise with Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Manchester City. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was quick to wrap up the Englishman in a free transfer. Immediately, he became second in line to the captaincy and he kept his #7 shirt intact which he wore at his previous club.
Liverpool targeted Ben Chillwell and Emerson in order to bolster their left-back options, but a knee injury to the Brazilian and failure to strike a deal with Leicester City forced Jurgen Klopp to utilize James Milner over defensive liable Alberto Moreno for the whole season. The 32-year-old showed thorough professionalism and dedication to swap his position from midfield to defence and performed to his maximum. Analysing his actions, Milner had more interceptions, clearances and blocks than Nathaniel Clyne, who is supposedly a natural full-back.
Gini Wijnaldum was deployed as an attacking midfielder throughout his career. Jordan Henderson's yellow card meant Liverpool will be without their Skipper against Manchester City in the second leg of Champions League Quarterfinals. When Jurgen Klopp needed someone to stand up against all odds, he put in a mouth-watering performance at the Etihad Stadium to take Liverpool to semifinals of the prestigious tournament.
Liverpool welcomed two midfilders to Anfield this summer - Naby Keita and Fabinho. The Guinean has been a regular starter for the Kops, whereas the Brazilian is yet to feature as he is still picking up his pace to match the intensity of the Premier League. However, Gini Wijnaldum's fine form helps Fabinho to take his own time and master a new role.
Bolstering Squad Depth:
A club of Liverpool's calibre is expected to win every time they step out on the pitch. Although it might be gruelling, the club is expected to compete for all the available trophies every season.
James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum not just provide squad depth, but can do the job whenever they are called upon. As Jurgen Klopp is in pressure of delivering a silverware this season, necessary squad depth with quality players will be an en route to success. These two will be vital men for the Reds.
James Milner has been almost redistributed among all the parts of the pitch over the last decade. The 32-year-old has already proved his ability by playing in the forward line, middle of the park and a fine line of defence. He has started all three games, but, over the course of the season, there might be a toll of injuries and suspensions which will see more of James Milner fill in multiple positions.
Gini Wijnaldum is capable of operating anywhere through the midfield area. Having played as an attacking and defensive midfielder with his club and country before, the 27-year-old provides Jurgen Klopp with an excellent option to use him anywhere in the middle of the park.
Earlier in July, Liverpool player's lactate test was doing rounds in social media. It was James Milner to win this test for a third consecutive year and thereby proving to be the fittest player in the squad. The 32-year-old has missed just 17 games in 15 years of professional football.
Gini Wijnaldum had a setback during 2013/14 season with a back trouble. Since then, the Dutchman has been immense with his fitness by missing just 3 games in last 4 years. These are mind-boggling figures for any player who would love to stay fit for the whole season.
Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner lack creativity part of the game, but they tend to produce their maximum output by putting their full effort to make things happen. Even, Jamie Carragher labelled Liverpool's midfield as "Workaholics" after last season.
One figure stood out the most from last season. James Milner covered 13.53 Kilometers in 90 minutes against Manchester City in the second leg of the Champions League Quarterfinals, which is two kilometres more than any other player on the pitch. Gini Wijnaldum was Liverpool's second highest with 11.58 Kilometers during that game.
Chip in Goals:
There is no need to mention about this part as they were driving force of the attacking displays of their old sides. The goalscoring chart of these two midfielders might have dipped over the last couple of seasons, but they have the finesse to slot the ball inside back of the net ordinarily.
These two have the vision to pick out passes and lodge piledrivers from outside the penalty box to change the game within a blip. This is another attribute held by these two midfielders.