Premier League • England

Van Dijk urges ex-Liverpool team-mate Wijnaldum to ‘accept’ PSG reality amid Netherlands snub

Virgil van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum West Ham v Liverpool January 2020

Virgil van Dijk has said that former Liverpool team-mate Georginio Wijnaldum must “accept” that his Paris Saint-Germain struggles will cost him a Netherlands role.

Wijnaldum made himself a nailed-on starter at Anfield while working with Jurgen Klopp. In fact, the midfielder played 237 times for the Reds over a five-year spell.

However, he moved to PSG last summer as a free agent after failing to agree a new contract.

And since then, he has dropped off. While he made 38 appearances in his debut season in the French capital, 13 of his 31 Ligue 1 appearances were from the bench.

What’s more, he stayed on the bench for both legs of PSG’s Champions League last 16 defeat to Real Madrid.

As a result of his struggles, he did not make the Netherlands squad for the Nations League. It is the first time the 86-cap star has not made the squad since 2014.

Still, Liverpool centre-back Van Dijk has insisted that Wijnaldum must accept the reality of the situation as Louis van Gaal picks his best crop of players.

“I think – but I’m not the national coach – that Gini with his qualities always belongs in orange,” Van Dijk said after Friday’s 4-1 win over Belgium.

“But he’s not at the best stage of his career. He’s not comfortable in his own skin.

“He has to accept the choice that the national coach has made.”

Wijnaldum has work to do

Wijnaldum’s exclusion from the Netherlands squad after so long as a regular feature is concerning ahead of the World Cup.

Indeed, there is only one more international break in September before the Qatar tournament in November and December.

Wijnaldum must do all he can over the summer, in pre-season and at the start of next season to get himself back in the team. He has an excellent record on the international stage, scoring 26 goals and assisting nine others.

However, Van Gaal is happy with how those in his current squad are performing.

He said of Barcelona’s Manchester United target Frenkie de Jong and Tottenham’s Steven Bergwijn: “It is always a victory for the collective, but there are people who can excel in the collective which is of course great.

“There are always stars in certain matches, but in this one, Frenkie de Jong and Steven Bergwijn, that was incredible how those two played.”

Van Dijk loving Netherlands, Liverpool life

Liverpool Van Dijk Villarreal

Meanwhile, Van Dijk is in a completely different mood to Wijnaldum.

The 30-year-old also lost his place in the national team last season due to his anterior cruciate ligament injury. He could have made the Euro 2020 squad, but decided to focus on his fitness.

And he subsequently played 51 games for Liverpool this term, helping lead the Reds to three finals and two trophies.

Van Dijk has firmly re-established himself with the Netherlands, taking back the captain’s armband which Wijnaldum had while he was away.

He will certainly be a feature at the World Cup if he can avoid another injury.