With Gini Wijnaldum expressing doubt over his future, Liverpool journalist David Maddock has suggested talks over a new deal are focused on length.
Wijnaldum gave an interview with Sky Sports earlier this week and was asked about the prospect of signing a contract extension with the Reds.
His current deal expires at the end of next season, and with the majority of Jurgen Klopp‘s squad tied down for the long term, the prospect of the No. 5 leaving has concerned fans.
The Dutchman simply said “we will see,” adding that “it depends on what the club wants, how the situation is at that time,” though he considers Liverpool “home.”
Undoubtedly one of the Reds’ most important players, Wijnaldum should be a priority in terms of contract talks, but offering an explanation in an interview with The Redmen TV, Maddock highlighted his age as a sticking point.
“What I would do is what Liverpool will do, which is give him a new contract,” he said.
“But the key there is not the £90,000 a week, but he’s approaching 30 years old.
“Look at the way Liverpool do business now, when they’re looking at contracts they reward them for performance, but they also eventually look at sell-on potential.
“And the fact is, at 30 years old, you give him one more contract then you get nothing for him.
“So you have to be sure. For instance if you give him a five-year contract he’s going to be 35, and is he going to go on [at this level] until he’s 35?”
There is considerable trust among fans that Liverpool will make the right decision over players, whether incoming, outgoing or those prolonging their stay, with James Milner‘s new two-and-a-half-year deal widely celebrated last month.
In Wijnaldum’s case, Maddock related his situation to that of Jordan Henderson in 2018, when the captain committed his future to the club until beyond his 33rd.
“They looked at Jordan Henderson and gave him a big contract [in 2018], and I remember at the time there was this massive fuss,” he continued.
“They gave him this five-year contract when he was 28, and everyone was going ‘that’s too long, it’s crazy, what are they doing it for?’.
“As it turns out it was a fantastic decision, because now look at him: he’s up there with the great Liverpool captains.
“They’re going to win the league, so he therefore has won the Champions League, won all these cups this season, he’ll win the league as captain.
“That will put him up there with Souness, Phil Thompson, Emlyn Hughes…
“I would relate him to Emlyn Hughes in terms of not always [being] given the acclaim he deserves but [he is] an incredible leader and a really lifting type of character.
“And yet a year ago people were saying ‘what have we given him such a big contract for?’.
“Now you’re looking at him and not only will he lead this team for another couple of years, but he will pass on his experience and maybe do a Milner role.”
And while there will be an anxious wait until Wijnaldum does put pen to paper, with fears he will follow the Emre Can route rather than those of Henderson and Milner, Maddock is confident he will sign.
“They’ve got to look at Wijnaldum, he’s a slightly different age. I suspect that they’re talking to him about length of contract, not money,” he explained.
“They’ll give him the right money, but it’s length of contract.
“You don’t give him a five-year contract, but obviously if you’re 30 years old and you’re signing your ‘last’ contract, you want it as long as possible [and] as high as possible, especially with the level he’s playing.
“But they’ve always come to an agreement with these players that are important. James Milner‘s an example, they’ve always come to an agreement with him but they always leave it because he’s of an age where you can’t throw money around.
“Liverpool just don’t do that, they’re very careful, sensible, and they have this setup now where they’re making long-term decisions as well as short-term decisions.
“And it works, and why change it? But he’ll get a contract, he’ll get more than £5 million a year!”