Barcelona are claimed to have cooled their interest in Gini Wijnaldum, which has left the Dutch midfielder to focus on renewing his contract with Liverpool.
Wijnaldum is in the final four months of his deal with the Reds and is widely expected to leave on a free transfer at the end of the season.
It is a strange situation, however, as there appears to be genuinely no sign of a move being lined up to another club, with the player repeatedly insisting there is “no news” regarding his future.
“It’s not that I’m not happy or that I have to leave or something like that, but it’s not as easy as everyone thinks it is to make some decisions for your future,” Wijnaldum said on Tuesday.
“You have to think about everything, negotiate with the club and those kinds of things. It’s difficult to deal with all kinds of things and that’s why it takes so long.”
But there has long been the looming possibility of Wijnaldum linking up with Ronald Koeman at Barcelona, with the manager confirming his interest in a player who thrived under him with the Netherlands.
However, Spanish publication Sport now claim that Barcelona have “practically ruled out” a move for the 30-year-old due to the impression Ilaix Moriba has made in recent weeks.
The 18-year-old Moriba has made a stunning start to life in the Barcelona first team, scoring once and assisting twice in three outings in LaLiga, as well as making his Champions League debut against Paris Saint-Germain.
Sport explain that the teenager “meets many of the requirements that Koeman was looking for in Wijnaldum,” and that his “progression could be cut short” if Liverpool’s No. 5 was signed.
Wijnaldum is “aware” that a move to the Nou Camp is now unlikely, and it is therefore claimed that “his priority is to renew for Liverpool,” which is even described as “the most likely scenario.”
This may simply be conjecture, based on Wijnaldum’s admission that he would be “devastated” to leave and Moriba’s recent form, but it is an interesting situation.
PSG and Inter Milan have both been credited with an interest in the versatile midfielder, but despite the fact no transfer fee would be required, it could be argued that high-profile free agents are at a disadvantage this summer.
Due to the ongoing financial uncertainty in football, players over the age of 30 likely to demand high wages for a lengthy deal – such as Wijnaldum, Sergio Aguero and Sergio Ramos – may be considered more of a risk than a lower-tier acquisition.
Perhaps that would leave the ball in Liverpool’s court, as if the player is eager to remain on Merseyside he may need to accept their conditions, such as a more reasonable wage and a shorter contract length.