Its been eight years in the making, but Georginio Wijnaldum finally left the Eredivisie on Friday, when Newcastle United announced his €20 million signing. Michael Bell takes a look at the midfielder who is the set to take the Premier League by storm.

wij psv cpRegular viewers of the Eredivisie are used to seeing young talents burst onto the scene, before being swiftly plucked by a big club abroad just as they are starting to show their capabilities. However that is not the case with Georgnio “Gini” Wijnaldum, who has graced the Eredivisie with his talent for the last eight years.

At 14-years-old Wijnaldum was taken from the Sparta Rotterdam academy by Feyenoord, and two years later he became the youngest player to represent the Rotterdam club in a 4-0 win over Groningen. The classy and always smiling dreadlocked midfielder, who was also deployed on the right wing, quickly became a fans favourite at De Kuip with his mature reading of the game, pace and dribbling ability.

wij feyWijnaldum became an important member of the Feyenoord first team, but with the club going through financial troubles and languishing in the bottom half of the Eredivise, he decided to move on from his home town. In the summer of 2011, Wijnaldum had his first chance to move abroad with several clubs, including Liverpool, watching the youngster, but the 19-year-old decided to swap Rotterdam for Eindhoven and PSV, as he believed it was better for his development.

On his €5 million move to PSV, Wijnaldum said, “This is pretty special for me. I’m still a young player and I’m keen to continue developing into a better player. That’s why staying in the Netherlands was in my best interest. PSV always play for the Eredivisie title and that’s new for me,”

His first season at PSV saw Wijnaldum win the KNVB Cup, and make his Netherlands debut in a 11-0 win over San Marino. However personally it was a frustrating campaign for the 20-year-old, who found it hard to find his form after being constantly switched between the wing and the number ten position by then coach Fred Rutten. After Rutten was sacked and Dick Advocaat took charge for the 2012/13 season, Wijnaldum enjoyed his most productive season, scoring twenty goals and adding eight assists from his preferred central position.

Wijnaldum was constantly maturing at PSV, and when the club lost the experience of Mark van Bommel, Kevin Strootman and Dries Mertens, new coach Phillip Cocu chose his number ten to be not only the focal point of the midfield, but also the club’s captain. The 2013/14 season started positively for Wijnaldum and PSV, who jumped to the top of the Eredivisie table and looked on course for the title, with the midfielder scoring four and proving to be a great leader for the young Eindhoven side. However persistent back issues ruled Wijnaldum out for months, and without their key man, PSV’s form imploded and although the midfielder returned towards the end of the campaign, they could only finish third.

wijnaldum nedA starring role at last summers World Cup, including a goal against Brazil in the third place play-off, once again gave Wijnaldum the opportunity to move abroad. However he stayed in Eindhoven after being convinced that the club were going to win the Eredivisie title.

What followed was Wijnaldum’s most impressive season to date, with the now all round box to box midfielder leading PSV to a comfortable title win, whilst being named player of the season. His defensive contribution was excellent with Wijnaldum’s reading of the game helping him anticipate danger, while his urge to get forward and dribbling skills saw him net 14 Eredivisie goals.

Quickly after the season ended, Wijnaldum announced his desire to finally move abroad, “I am happy at PSV but I am a player with a lot of ambition. I want to play in a stronger league than the Eredivisie.”

After weeks of speculation, Wijnaldum has now got his wish and will have the opportunity to star in the Premier League next season with Newcastle United.

From dazzling winger to excellent all round midfielder, Wijnaldum has developed greatly in his eight years in the Eredivisie, and now has all the capabilities needed to become a Premier League star and permanent member of the Netherlands squad.

Stats

220 Eredivisie appearances, 63 league goals and 23 assists. 19 Netherlands caps

Main Strengths

 Excellent anticipation, versatility, pace, dribbling, passing, leadership

Interesting facts

-Gini has a younger brother Giliano who plays for Bochum, is the cousin of Royston Drenthe, and the half brother of Wolves winger Rajiv van la Parra.

-Wijnaldum wasn’t a big fan of football as a kid and was more into gymnastics, but his love of the game grew after joining Sparta Rotterdam’s academy at the age of seven.




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