Former Newcastle midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum is being linked with a sensational return to St James’ Park.
The midfielder joined Paris Saint-Germain in the summer, arriving in the French capital on a free transfer after his Liverpool contract expired.
However, things haven’t gone to plan so far for the Dutchman.
Wijnaldum has made 18 appearances for PSG so far, but only nine of them have been starts.
What’s the story?
TEAMtalk claim that his representatives have already looked at the possibility of a move away from the Parc des Princes.
The report adds that Newcastle are ‘keeping tabs’ on the situation and would like to re-sign Wijnaldum if he becomes available.
However, TEAMtalk state that PSG’s sporting director Leonardo has insisted that Wijnaldum is going nowhere.
Would a Wijnaldum return be a good idea for Newcastle?
The Dutch midfielder only spent one season at St James’ Park. He was signed by Steve McClaren back in 2015 for £14.5million.
Wijnaldum started brilliantly for the Magpies, and ended the season as the club’s top scorer with 12 goals. However, that only told half the story.
Each goal came at St James’ Park, with Newcastle’s number five seemingly disappearing every time they played away from home.
Newcastle ended the season in 18th place, suffering relegation to the Championship. Wijnaldum did enough to stay in the top flight though, earning a £25million move to Liverpool.
He was much better at Anfield, playing in a different role under Jurgen Klopp. Wijnaldum became more defensive, whereas he was Newcastle’s main goal threat during his one and only season in the North East.
Those defensive attributes would make him a wonderful addition to Eddie Howe’s midfield. The 31-year-old can go both ways, and has the energy to go box-to-box.
What Rafa Benitez said about Wijnaldum in 2016
While he was signed by McClaren, Wijnaldum ended his Newcastle career managed by Rafa Benitez.
The Spaniard had the makings of a good team in 2016, but couldn’t keep them in the Premier League and had to rebuild the squad that summer.
Benitez was a big fan of Wijnaldum, and could have built his team around him had they stayed in the top flight.
“He [Wijnaldum] is so good, he can play everywhere and do well,” Benitez told the Chronicle in March 2016.
“We were thinking about where to play him the other day, and we said: ‘His best position could be behind the striker’.
“But because he is doing well he can play on the right, he can play on the left.
“And even then I was talking to him about when he was playing against Costa Rica (for the Netherlands) in the World Cup in Brazil (in 2014) in a deeper position, and he can play there too because he is so good.
“On saying that, he is so good up front because he can create and score goals.
“I think that his best position is behind the striker but we need quality now out on the pitch, so he can help in any position.”
Rating the rumour
Is a return to Newcastle likely for Wijnaldum? It feels unlikely.
It is still early days for him at PSG. He will surely start to get more minutes – he’s too good not to.
And if he did become available, would a move to Newcastle be tempting? Perhaps he may feel like he has unfinished business, but our position in the table will be less enticing.
On top of that, PSG may be reluctant to do business with Newcastle given relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia…
Newcastle likely would want to sign Wijnaldum if he was available. He’s a big-name player who knows the Premier League. But a move back to Newcastle feels like a longshot at the moment.