Rafael Benitez told Georginio Wijnaldum Liverpool are 'a big club'

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As soon as Newcastle's relegation to the Championship was confirmed last season, their Premier League rivals quickly identified Georginio Wijnaldum as one Magpies star who was too good to play in the second tier of English football.

Liverpool staved off initial interest from Tottenham and Everton to secure the Dutch international's signature for £25 million last week.

While Wijnaldum has already claimed the Jurgen Klopp factor played a significant role in his club choice, the 25-year-old has also revealed what Rafael Benitez told him about his new side.


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Benitez, who was Liverpool boss between 2004-10, had been reluctant to let the midfielder leave St James' Park this summer but gave a subtle piece of advice on which club Wijnaldum should have moved to.

Wijnaldum said: “Rafa just said that Liverpool is a big club," as per the Liverpool Echo.

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“The biggest thing he said was that he wanted to keep me for Newcastle.

“He didn't want to sell me but he said that if a great offer came in they would think about it. He wanted to keep me there.

"He didn't say: 'You need to go to Liverpool' because he wanted me to stay at Newcastle.”

Benitez is still considered a Liverpool hero after that magical night in Istanbul 11 years ago and their fans will be pleased he still has their best interests at heart with the guidance he offered Wijnaldum.

Liverpool v Newcastle United - Premier League

The former PSV star was one of the few Newcastle players to finish last season with any credibility after scoring 11 times during his first campaign in English football.

He was also given the opportunity to link up with fellow Dutchman Ronald Koeman at his new club's fierce rivals, Everton but confirmed a discussion with Klopp was enough to persuade him to pick Anfield over Goodison Park.

"It was straight after the conversation I had with Jurgen Klopp that I had the feeling that I wanted to come to Liverpool.

Wigan Athletic v Liverpool - Pre-Season Friendly

"Jurgen gave me a good feeling in that conversation. Straight after that, I wanted to sign for Liverpool.

"In that conversation he made me feel really good. He gave me a lot of confidence because he said he liked my way of playing football."

Liverpool's seventh signing of the summer has already joined up with his new teammates in America and could well feature against Premier League rivals Chelsea in their opening game of the International Champions Cup on Thursday.

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Steven Gerrard
Premier League
Newcastle United

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