Having received plenty of playing time at the World Cup in Brazil, Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has caught the eye of the international world of football. Consequently, a move, perhaps to the Italian Serie A, could be on the cards for him this summer.
After seven years in the Dutch Eredivisie, where he made his professional debut at the age of 16, the time has definitely come for Wijnaldum to consider it. Having learned all there is to learn at Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven, he must move on to a bigger league.
Not many players make their debuts in professional football at such a young age. But for Wijnaldum, a product of Feyenoord’s reputable youth academy, things were different. As a youngster, he was already being looked at to save his club—whose bad spell in the Eredivisie had been going on for multiple years.
Wijnaldum immediately impressed. Fully justifying his already notable reputation, the wonderkid led the way for a new generation of Feyenoord youngsters like a true midfield general. Wijnaldum’s concert with the Rotterdam side seemed like a match made in heaven.
But in 2011, a peculiar development transpired. Where Dutch players usually play for their first club in the Netherlands until a club from a bigger league snaps them up, Wijnaldum decided to make a controversial move within the Eredivisie. After 111 games and 23 goals, he left Feyenoord for rivals PSV Eindhoven.
It was unusual, but studied more closely, it was a sensible and bold move. Even with Wijnaldum—and several other highly rated youngsters—in the team, Feyenoord hadn’t been performing well. After four years in the first team, Wijnaldum had to move on, or he would run the risk of falling behind in his development.
It was too early for a move abroad. A transfer to PSV, who were clear league challengers and potential Champions League competitors, was the only way forward.
It wasn’t easy, however. In Eindhoven, Wijnaldum had trouble adjusting. This was partly due to the position he usually had to play. Where he was used to playing as a true No. 10, a playmaker behind the main striker, Wijnaldum suddenly had to play as a right winger, forced to cut inside to end up in the central area he longed for.
Wijnaldum’s fortunes changed when PSV hired their new manager Phillip Cocu. Opting for a 4-3-3 formation, Cocu positioned him as one of the two forward-thinking central midfielders, in front of a defensive-minded midfielder. Cocu also made Wijnaldum captain.
Almost immediately, Wijnaldum seemed to hit his stride, fulfilling the potential that had been slowly cooking under the surface since his days at Feyenoord’s youth academy. After a rocking start to his career and a few years spent reaching maturity at PSV, he was finally where he needed to be.
Wijnaldum later suffered an injury and spent most of the 2013-14 season sidelined, but at the World Cup, he was a member of Louis van Gaal’s first XI. In Brazil, the midfielder performed against some of the world’s best footballers as his direct opponents.
Van Gaal had seen the significance of Wijnaldum’s breakthrough at PSV. He had seen that the midfielder was no longer the wonderkid he had been at Feyenoord, that he was now a mature footballer whose talents had, for a large part, come to fruition.
In 2011, when he was 20 years old, Wijnaldum made the brave decision to leave his boyhood club in order to make a much-needed next step in his career. Now that he has reached a level worthy of the World Cup, he has learned all there is to learn in the Eredivisie, and the time has come to make a similar move once again.
In order to keep his development on a steady trajectory towards the top, Wijnaldum must move to a bigger league, and because he is not quite ready to play for a top side in the Premier League or Bundesliga, the Serie A would be the perfect destination.
At a Serie A side, Wijnaldum can make the last steps needed to reach his maximum potential, and it would be wasteful not to try.
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