Football

Gini goes from sickly to showing off slick skills

Klopp and Milner praise Liverpool's unsung midfield general Wijnaldum

Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum is rarely the headline grabber for Liverpool but a special goal and an outstanding all-round performance in Saturday's 3-0 English Premier League win over Bournemouth showed his value to Juergen Klopp's team.

Wijnaldum's display of pressing, passing and one sublime finish was all the more remarkable given the state he had been in ahead of the game.

"He didn't sleep in the team hotel last night. He had diarrhoea and vomiting two nights earlier, so he couldn't come to the team hotel," Reuters quoted Klopp as saying.

"He had pretty much everything you don't want to have two nights before a game.

"Then he said, after a couple of hours' sleep, 'I feel good, I can play'."

Wijnaldum's goal was a perfectly weighted lob over Cherries' keeper Artur Boruc after the Dutchman had superbly brought down a lofted pass from left-back Andy Robertson.

The strike sandwiched goals by Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

It showed another side of Wijnaldum's game and that for all his aggression and work-rate in midfield, he also possesses a deft touch.

Klopp, though, joked that he was worried he might pass on his illness to his teammates during the celebration.

"I was concerned after he scored a goal that everyone gives him a hug," said Klopp, who added Wijnaldum's attitude was typical of his squad, who lead Manchester City by three points ahead of their title rivals' match with Chelsea this morning (Singapore time).

James Milner also heaped praise on the 28-year-old, adding that some of his side's football was "mesmerising".

Said the utility man: "Some of the play was mesmerising. We could have scored more.

"We're very lucky with the squad we have, the movement, link-up and understanding.

"I thought it was a good team performance...

"It's been a tough few weeks with players injured and ill. Gini Wijnaldum was nowhere to be seen yesterday and then he produces a performance like that."

Former Tottenham Hotspur and England midfielder Jermaine Jenas, meanwhile, said Liverpool, and in particular Salah, look back to their best.

He wrote in his Daily Mail column: "Salah has played down the middle a lot recently but having him out wide gets the best out of everyone.

"You get a better Salah, you get a better (Roberto) Firmino.

"You get a better overall performance.

"Salah was brilliant. His goals are one thing, but it is his influence on the game as a whole that is the most important factor.

"That's why I prefer him on the right. Players like Salah, if you play them down the middle, will still get their goals. But it has an impact on those around him.

"Firmino then starts to drop deeper than he needs to and stops having as much of an influence on the game by linking play and getting forward."

Football