Barcelona are “confirmed” to be interested in Liverpool midfielder Gini Wijnaldum, amid speculation he could leave and Thiago Alcantara could take his place at Anfield.
Wijnaldum is in the final year of his contract with the Reds and at this stage the club have no plans to offer the Dutchman an extension.
At 29, he is one of the oldest outfield players in the squad, and this is likely to be his last big deal, which could have impacted initial talks as his representatives aim to boost his salary.
There is no denying Wijnaldum’s influence at Liverpool, and only Roberto Firmino has played more minutes than the No. 5 since Jurgen Klopp took over in 2015, but at this stage, both parties appear set to move on.
Whether that comes this summer or next remains to be seen, but with the Reds interested in Thiago—who finds himself in the same situation as Wijnaldum at Bayern—many have drawn the conclusion that it will be one in, one out.
With Ronald Koeman vacating his role with the Netherlands national team to take over at Barcelona this month, obvious links were drawn between him and a player who has scored 10 goals in 17 games under his management.
And now Goal‘s Neil Jones, sharing a byline with Spanish correspondent Ruben Uria, reports that “sources have confirmed” that Koeman wants Wijnaldum at the Nou Camp.
However, “[Wijnaldum] is not pushing for a move and there is no offer on the table yet,” and while Barca are “yet to formalise their interest,” Liverpool “have no desire to sell at this stage.”
The Reds have also been “offered no indication by Wijnaldum that he is looking for a move,” but Jones adds that the balance of the situation is “keeping all options open.”
Interestingly, he adds that “any deal at this stage would require Barca to free up funds from sales,” with the club expected to part ways with a host of their long-serving senior players after a disastrous run of late.
Lionel Messi has already announced his desire to leave, though that could change if club president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigns, while Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, Arturo Vidal, Jordi Alba and Ivan Rakitic are also believed to be available.
Wijnaldum could take Rakitic’s place in the side, for example, and if Liverpool were to sign Thiago it is more likely they would consider a reasonable deal for the Dutchman.
Jones suggests Liverpool’s stance may “change over the coming days and weeks,” noting that signing Bayern’s No. 6 “could pave the way for departures.”
It should be noted that in most other publications it has been stressed that the arrival of Thiago would be contingent on other midfielders leaving first, but this could be a mutually beneficial situation all things considered.
Whether Barcelona make a bid for Wijnaldum in the near future remains to be seen, but it is noteworthy that their interest is now “confirmed.”