Liverpool warned Gini Wijnaldum exit ‘sends them backwards’ even if Thiago transfer sealed

Liverpool would be moving “backwards” if they sold Gini Wijnaldum to Barcelona – regardless of whether or not they were to replace him with Thiago Alcantara. That’s the verdict of Paul Merson. 

Wijnaldum’s future is up in the air with less than 12 months left on his contract at Anfield, where he has spent the last four years.

The 29-year-old is not currently in talks with Liverpool over an extension despite playing more matches than any of Jurgen Klopp’s midfield options last term.

Goal say that Barcelona are confident they can land the ex-Newcastle playmaker, who has been used more as a box-to-box option by Klopp, while he can also still take up more advanced or more defensive roles in the Liverpool midfield.

Former Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman is now in charge at Barca and wants to bring his countryman to the Nou Camp to put him in the centre alongside another Netherlands international, Frenkie de Jong, with the pair both starting in their country’s 1-0 Nations League win over Poland on Friday night with Wijnaldum playing as a No 10.

Goal’s report claim that Premier League champions Liverpool are reluctant to lose Wijnaldum as a free agent and that Koeman has asked the Barca board to sign him.

The La Liga giants must sell players before they can bid for the player, however, with it thought it could cost up to £20million to sign him.

Asked about his future this week on international duty, Wijnaldum said only: “That’s a rumour, I can’t say more about it.”

And Arsenal legend Merson, writing for the Daily Star, insists Klopp must not let the “under-estimated” midfielder leave – even though they have been linked with high-class Bayern Munich ace Thiago throughout the transfer window.

Merson said: “Liverpool would be mad to sell Georginio Wijnaldum – and he’d be mad to go!

“They’ve just won the league for the first time in forever, they won the Champions League. They’re one of the best teams around.

“And the days of Barcelona poaching your best players are gone. How long will it take them to get back to the top?

“If Liverpool let Wijnaldum go they would be losing one of their chief midfield players. That sends them backwards.

“The lad gets big goals and his workrate is immense. He is under-estimated in my opinion. Doesn’t get enough credit.

“That’s going to be a major blow if he leaves. Their midfield three won them the league. It gave the full-backs a chance to bomb on and the front three confidence to play.

“They are the engine and Wijnaldum is a very important part of that. They work their socks off. They’re like a machine. They all know their role. It works. Don’t break it up.

“I know there’s talk about Liverpool bringing in Thiago Alcantara. But he’s a different kind of player. He won’t have the same energy.”

Liverpool legend John Barnes has surmised that perhaps Wijnaldum is asking for more than the Merseyside club are willing to pay and that is why a deal has not been agreed.

Barnes told Bonus Code Bets: “Well, of course, you want to keep your players, especially your best players, those who have been instrumental in doing what they did for your success.

“But I think midfield players are a little bit different in terms of their profile as they tend to be replaceable.

“Replacing the front three is much harder. Having said that, Gini Wijnaldum is a fantastic player.

“He’s hardworking, diligent, good work ethic and good ability but if he’s asking for a lot more that offered to him, then I guess, Liverpool will find someone better value for the same, or similar, standard.

“I’d love to see Gini staying at Liverpool, he’s a great player and I do hope, both for Gini, and the club, that they can find a way to agree.

“I think Liverpool feel Gini is asking for too much, which tend to backfire when players get too confident, but let’s see.

“He’s done a lot good for the club so hopefully that will work in his favour should they try to find a solution.

“Having said that, if Liverpool can sign another player and bring some security to the situation and something a little bit different to that area of the pitch then that may be the best thing to do.”

Like Barca, Liverpool need to sell players to fund moves and so to bring in Thiago, would seemingly need to offload Wijnaldum or a series of fringe players.

The Spaniard, also 29, will cost the Reds the best part of £25m although the Bayern man also has less than a year left on his contract.

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