Liverpool find Gini Wijnaldum successor as Neymar can be thanked for game-changing transfer
Liverpool may have found their new Gini Wijnaldum
Whatever the outcome of the Merseyside derby, Liverpool played much more like their previous performances.
Although it wasn’t their best performance, there was an intensity and vigor to their play that has been missing far too frequently this season, according to Andrew Beasley.
Last month, following a 2-2 draw between the Reds and Wolves, Jürgen Klopp discussed the issues the team faced.
“In the whole game we didn’t win enough challenges, to be honest,” he said, but that wasn’t an issue earlier this week, with his side recording their highest duel win percentage of the league campaign.
Liverpool’s best derby player for duels (among those who attempted more than three) was Darwin Nunez, with a 67 per cent win rate. At the other end of the scale was Stefan Bajcetic, though only Mohamed Salah contested more than the youngster, in fairness.
Irrespective of that minor concern, the midfielder got a nine in the post-game ratings and was named man of the match on Sky by Jamie Carragher. There was one metric which goes a long way towards explaining why.
Before we get to that, Bajcetic’s performance needs to be put into context. His ascent has been so swift that Transfermarkt’s database only contains 46 games in which he has played. Of those matches, at both junior and senior level, the clash with Everton was the first in which he has started in what they class as central (rather than defensive) midfield.
He did get the final 11 minutes of the Reds’ 3-1 win at Aston Villa there, replacing Jordan Henderson and finding time to score the final goal.
Bajcetic was the Reds’ joint-top player for chances created, made the most interceptions and was their only non-forward with a shot on target. As impressive as this was, his pressing efforts went beyond this single game to be reportedly the best by a Liverpool player for 10 months.
Liverpool can thank Neymar for transfer that changed everything
While Liverpool’s 2022/23 season has been pretty awful, the last five years have been one hell of a ride under Jurgen Klopp.
The Reds ended their 30-year wait to be crowned champions of England, reached three Champions League finals, winning one, and were even champions of the world for the first time back in 2019.