Wijnaldum’s departure has become a surprise headline of the transfer window at Anfield, with the Dutchman a key player under Jurgen Klopp for the past four years.
With his contract due to expire at the end of 2020/21, and with the club unwilling to offer him the four-year extension he is seeking, the two parties are left at an undesirable juncture.
As it stands, Wijnaldum will leave on a free transfer next year, but the appointment of Ronald Koeman has Barcelona manager has prompted interest from the Nou Camp.
On Wednesday, Spanish newspaper Sport claimed the two clubs were “well advanced” in talks, with the midfielder having agreed terms on a three-year contract with the Spanish side.
This was rebuffed by The Athletic’s James Pearce and Goal’s Neil Jones, with the club clearly briefing journalists that there had been “no contact,” but later in the day, Dutch publication De Telegraaf appeared to double down.
Now, the Guardian‘s Andy Hunter, the Mail‘s Dominic King, the Times‘ Paul Joyce and the Telegraph‘s Chris Bascombe, prominent journalists on Merseyside, have reported that Liverpool are preparing themselves for an approach.
Hunter writes that the Reds are “reluctant to sell,” but a “sizeable offer” could alter their stance, with the club “braced” for a bid from an imploding Barcelona.
Interestingly, he suggests that the club would be looking to recoup the £25 million they paid to sign their No. 5 from Newcastle in 2016 “at the very least,” though The Athletic’s David Ornstein has written elsewhere it would not require a “huge fee” to seal the deal.
Sport had claimed that Barcelona were not looking to pay over €20 million (£17.8m), offering a package worth an initial €15 million (13.3m) with add-ons.
In fact, the Liverpool Echo are the sole source to suggest that is the case, with Pearce even telling The Redmen TV this week that “no one’s ever said to be ‘absolutely no chance, it’s just agent talk’, because it’s not.”
It is likely this story runs long into the transfer window, particularly as both Wijnaldum and Thiago are currently on international duty and with quarantine measures complicating travel.
But Liverpool and Bayern in particular would surely prefer to have the situation settled before they kick off their league campaigns on September 12 and 18 respectively.