Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is due to hold discussions with Gini Wijnaldum over the midfielder’s future as the links to Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona intensify.
The 29-year-old, who has entered the final year of his contract at Anfield with no progress being reached on fresh terms due to differences over core elements like the length of a new deal, will return to Melwood on Wednesday after representing the Netherlands against Italy and Poland in the Nations League.
It offers the pair a chance to talk through latest developments with Koeman, Wijnaldum’s former international manager, wanting him to add steel and tactical flexibility to the Barca squad he inherited which is in need of a rebuild.
The Dutchman has been an integral part of Klopp’s reconstruction on the pitch, with his availability, durability, positional discipline and skill of retaining possession under pressure serving the system well. Wijnaldum is also part of the senior players’ committee at the club and has been a pivotal part in the side learning to “win in 500 different ways.”
Liverpool parted with £25 million in the summer of 2016 to sign their No.5 from Newcastle and will feel they have been more than repaid given his vital goals – against Middlesborough and Barcelona in particular – and big-game performances that helped the club become champions of England, Europe and the world.
As such, losing Wijnaldum on a free next summer would not be considered detrimental, but if he wanted to move in the current window, it opens up a vacancy and the possibility of recruiting Thiago from Bayern Munich.
Liverpool are admirers of the supreme passer, but already have seven senior midfielders on their books – not including Marko Grujic and Harry Wilson – in their best-stocked department.
Squad management and happiness is central to Klopp’s thinking and unless the area can be trimmed, it is unlikely the Premier League champions will make their move.
The ideal scenario would be keeping Wijnaldum, selling the excess midfielders and adding Thiago, but concrete offers have not yet been forthcoming for much of the fringe players – one of the byproducts of the financial effects of coronavirus.
Liverpool have only added left-back Kostas Tsimikas (£11.75m) as cover for Andy Robertson to the roster ahead of the new campaign.
They are short at centre-back and can do with a foil for the front three that is a stylistic fit. Klopp has been prepared to be patient in the market, noting “there’s a long time to go until October 6. We will deal with our situation like we always did. I think the philosophy of this club is pretty clear. We will see how much we can, or how much we want, to spend and all these kinds of things.”
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