LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 23, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp embraces Georginio Wijnaldum as he is substituted during the final FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jurgen Klopp pays emotional tribute to Gini Wijnaldum after final Liverpool game

Jurgen Klopp will bid farewell to Gini Wijnaldum this summer, and in his post-match press conference on Sunday he paid an emotional tribute to his outgoing No. 5.

Following Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace, Wijnaldum confirmed his bittersweet departure from the club on the expiry of his contract.

A £25 million signing from Newcastle in 2016, the Dutchman has been an indispensable player for Klopp over the past five years, with only James Milner and Roberto Firmino making more appearances for the manager.

In his press conference at Anfield, Klopp discussed Wijnaldum’s imminent exit, admitting it is a “very emotional” situation as he “loses a friend.”

“Where can I start?” he said.

“I met this wonderful player for the first time – we played, obviously, against him – in my living room at home. I had to see him and talk to him.

“From the first moment it clicked between us, he’s a very friendly, very smart, very open person and that never changed, it just improved since then.

“Yes, it’s very emotional for me, because I lose a friend and we’ll miss him. That’s how it is.

“But it’s normal in football that these kinds of things happen. Not nice, but normal. I’m really sure he will find a great place.”

Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain have all been linked with Wijnaldum in recent months, but the midfielder is yet to reach an agreement with a new club.

For those looking for a character reference ahead of a possible deal, Klopp is more than willing to provide one, praising his contribution as a player and a person.

“Each club who is interested in him, if you call me and ask about him, then you will take him definitely, because I couldn’t be more positive about what he did here,” he continued.

“It’s incredible. He was not only always available, he played 90 percent of the time really, really good.

“People might not know exactly what I mean with good, because sometimes it’s not that spectacular.

“But from the young kid who was an offensive 10, to a winger at Newcastle, to coming here and becoming such a controlling midfielder, that’s a massive step.

“You can only do that when you understand the game really in the right way, and he did that.

“He scored incredibly important goals. Barcelona, I think Cardiff was very, very important, Middlesbrough was very important. So many top, top-class performances.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 23, 2021: Liverpool Georginio Wijnaldum on a lap of honour after the final FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It seems as though Wijnaldum had hoped to stay with Liverpool beyond this summer, but however it resolves itself, Klopp is already cherishing the memories they share.

“Now it looks like the time is over, but everything will be fine and nobody can take our memories from us,” he added.

“We will share them forever. That’s really great. I told him that after the game, he sees it the same way.

“Goodbye would not be tough if the time you had together was not worth it, so it’s really tough because we had a great time together.”