Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has decided to reject any further contract talks, and will instead look to join Barcelona at the end of the season on a free transfer.
The 30-year-old has only six months remaining on his current deal, meaning he is free to negotiate a move to another club now the January transfer window is open.
One European giant who has long been linked with a swoop for Wijnaldum is Barcelona, whose coach Ronald Koeman worked with the Dutchman in the Netherlands’ national setup.
After week of speculation, the Mirror report that the allure of Camp Nou has convinced the midfielder not to extend his stay at Anfield, and he will leave the Reds on a free transfer when his contract expires in the summer.
A source close to the player has stated that Barça have always been ‘a big draw’ for Wijnaldum, and compared his situation to that of Gareth Bale, who left Tottenham Hotspur for his dream move to Real Madrid in 2013.
“Barcelona has always been a big draw for him. It’s a similar situation to when Gareth Bale left Tottenham for Real Madrid in that it is his ultimate destination,” the source said.
There has been a lot of uncertainty over whether he was prepared to put pen to paper, and it was recently reported that the Reds were not in talks with him over a new deal.
That seems to be the case then, given his decision to depart Anfield and begin a new chapter at Barça with Dutch coach Koeman. Wijnaldum has been a great servant for Liverpool since joining the club in 2016, but it appears the opportunity to play for Catalan giants Barça is too good to turn down at this stage of his career.
Jurgen Klopp will be disappointed to lose such a consistently impressive midfielder, one who has proven crucial to their Champions League and Premier League successes. Speaking about Wijnaldum’s contract debacle, the German coach had ‘nothing to say’, but confessed his admiration for the Liverpool star.
“I have nothing to say about this,” Klopp remarked. ” I’ve said how much I like the person and the player. So, there’s really nothing else to say about it. That’s not good or bad news, that’s just how it is. If there’s a decision you’ll know about it.
“Apart from that, there’s nothing else to say.”
Despite the uncertainty that surrounds his future, Wijnaldum has still played a key role in the Liverpool side this season, appearing in all 17 Premier League games thus far.