Liverpool midfielder Gini Wijnaldum has welcomed the competitive nature of the Reds squad as he reiterated his wish to stay at the club.
Wijnaldum has been one of Liverpool’s brightest sparks this campaign, delivering unwavering consistency and quality which supporters have now become accustomed to.
There were even suggestions the Dutchman would move on due to less game-time. However, Wijnaldum’s exemplary form has been the perfect response; he has played the most minutes out of all Liverpool midfielders this season.
Speaking to the Mail’s Oliver Holt in an all encompassing interview, the 28-year-old explained how he wasn’t fazed by Fabinho and Keita’s arrival.
He rubbished past transfer rumours whilst acknowledging everyone at the club and their appreciation of him, reiterating his desire to continue at Anfield.
“I didn't worry when the club signed Keita and Fabinho,” Wijnaldum said. “You play for Liverpool. Liverpool is a top club. Even if you do well in your position, if there is another player that does well, every club wants to sign him.
“So also Liverpool wants to sign him because Liverpool is a good club. That's how it goes in top clubs. They will sign them to make the team better but I have to show the manager that I'm the best one in my position.
“A lot of players think: "OK, they signed him so I'm not needed any more", but as a player you have to show the manager and force him to put you in the team. Show your quality with the way you train and the way you play.
“The thing that irritated me was that a lot of stories appeared in the media saying I wanted to leave. It didn't bother me that Liverpool were signing players. When they signed me, they already had good players. It was annoying. I didn't like those stories.
“I spoke with the manager about it. Actually, he spoke with me. He was surprised about the stories. It was a surprise for me, too. I don't know if he really thought that I said it.
“The manager said "you're not leaving" and I told him I didn't want to leave. I like Liverpool. I like the club and I like the fans. The people appreciate me. That's the most important thing.
“I've heard people say that phrase "unsung hero" about my role and maybe that's true, but that's not a problem for me. I know how my team-mates think about me and I know how the manager thinks about me and they really appreciate me.
“They don't see me how people outside the club see me. So that was not a big deal for me. I feel I'm loved by the other players and the manager so that's more important.
“Our defending is really stable this year and because we are defending so well, we can attack more, but that will not get praise. The people who score get praised, but one goes with the other. Football is a team sport and you have to work to a point where you try to make a team-mate better. We just help each other.”
Wijnaldum has been integral to Liverpool’s title charge this season - and they could go three points clear of Manchester City with a win at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Whilst the Reds’s title credentials have come under the microscope in recent weeks, Wijnaldum insists Liverpool can show their mettle and cope with the pressure.
“I am quite confident that we can deal with the pressure but it is always easy to say it,” Wijnaldum added.
“If you ask at the beginning of the season, would you prefer to have the pressure of playing to be champion or play without pressure but that means you're not going to win anything, everyone chooses playing under pressure.
“It makes the game more fun if you have three teams playing to be champion. I am enjoying it. Who's going to make the mistake? Who is going to go to the end? I like it.”