Bit of a stretch to suggest that people didn’t know what he was about rather than he just had some poor games. I’ve always rated him on his day but this season he has brought a level of consistency and really stands out amongst a talented midfield.
Not a stretch at all, it is there for everyone to read in all the match threads and here in his player thread. "The invisible man" - "I don't know what it is he does" - "He doesn't influence games at all" - "He'll be the first out of the starting eleven when Keita and Fabinho arrive". Typical statements during the majority of last season.
He had a cracking first season under Klopp playing with the likes of Lallana and Henderson in midfield. Scored a bunch of important goals (Chelsea, City, Middlesbrough) that got us three points in those games and played a very big part in us making top four that season. He was always amongst the top performers in virtually every game against top 6 opponents.
Season after, our midfield was constantly hit by injuries. Henderson was rarely 100% fit, Lallana missed almost the entire season, Milner wasn't as good as he has been this season in midfield and Can was a tactical disaster. Only during the second half of the season, Chamberlain was used to playing in midfield for us. By then, Wijnaldum had played a ton of games having to babysit the likes of Can and having to limit his own game again for the good of the team. It's not a coincidence that his second half of the season was far better than his first half (also due to Chamberlain playing alongside him). He never went hiding, he performed consistently (bar a few poor games), yet he was always blamed for our midfield woes. People just completely ignored his work off the ball because he wasn't getting on the ball as much. Which wasnt his fault, he was just playing in a dysfunctional midfield. That's what I meant with people not getting what he offers or what he was about during last season because his role had changed compared to the season before that.
This season he is playing with midfielders that know what it means to defend, how to defend, when to press, not to leave gaps in our shape and are generally tactically astute. He is suddenly performing at a high level again and people are singing his praises. Think that's a coincidence? It's not. He is still the same player, he just gets to play with better players around him which helps his game.
Tactically, he is one of our best players and in terms of midfielders, the first name on the teamsheet for me.