Liverpool host Newcastle United at Anfield on boxing day, and the Toons former midfielder Gini Wijnaldum has revealed that he still holds them dear to his heart.
The Netherlands international left Saint James Park in 2016 for £25million after Newcastle’s relegation, and he has since become a key part of Jurgen Klopp’s side ever since.
Wijnaldum arrived the Premier League from PSV Eindhoven in the summer of 2015 for £14.5million, and hit the ground running immediately, scoring 11 league goals in 38 games.
He was left with no choice than to leave following Newcastle’s drop to the Championship, but he forever holds the Tyneside club dear to his heart.
“They are a club which is in my heart. They gave me the opportunity to play in the Premier League,” Wijnaldum told ECHO.
“The fee was a lot of money at the time. A lot of clubs didn’t want to take the risk that they took. I only worked with Rafa Benitez for a short time but he’s a great manager and he showed it from the first moment he came.
“He’s a good person, always trying to help players out. It was a big disappointment that we got relegated but I will always appreciate what Newcastle did for me.”
Newcastle immediately bounced back to the top-flight in style by winning the Championship, but have continued to flirt with relegation ever since, with owner and chairman Mike Ashley failing to invest in the squad as significantly as manager Benitez would have loved.
The Toons surely could do with a midfielder of Wijnaldum’s calibre and versatility, but their loss surely is Liverpool’s gain as the 28-year-old has played a huge role in their success so far this season.
The Anfield outfit top the league having won 15 and drawn three of their 18 games, and they will hope to maintain that impressive record against Newcastle tomorrow.