One more year of Gini Wijnaldum or a cash windfall? That’s the decision facing Liverpool right now – but which is better?
Wijnaldum is in the last year of his contract with Liverpool. Come January, he can start negotiating with teams outside of England and even sign a pre-contract.
Barcelona are one of those potential teams, as outlined in the Independent. Ronald Koeman, the new boss there, utilised Wijnaldum wonderfully for the Netherlands and may well want him at Camp Nou.
So Liverpool face a decision. Do they sell now and get a fee for the player? Or do they wait and get another year of a key player? We make a case for both.
Sell, sell, sell
The argument here is once again outlined in that Independent article. If Liverpool sell Wijnaldum, they’ll have the money and space to sign Thiago from Bayern Munich.
Thiago would come in on a longer contract and add something new to the side, instantly freshening things up. There’s the obvious risk that he doesn’t fit in or takes a while to adapt but that’s the same with any player.
The overwhelming plus is that Liverpool could settle with an elite player, rather than worry about what to do in a year.
But the flip side is that Liverpool would lose a key player – and that may force a change in the system. Wijnaldum plays every important game and Liverpool’s midfield is built around having hard-working box-to-box players either side of Fabinho.
Without that, Liverpool don’t have the same cover for the full-backs. They also don’t have the same flexibility in style. Wijnaldum can effortlessly switch between defending and attacking, depending on the game. Few players can do that and Liverpool use it to their benefit.
One more year
Keeping Wijnaldum pretty much guarantees a solid season next year. Liverpool would have their title-winning team, after all, but with cover at full-back.
They could carry things over effortlessly, not need to change anything and plan accordingly. And that includes spending the next year figuring out the best way to replace Wijnaldum.
Maybe that’s a straight swap? Maybe it’s time for a big rebuild?
The downside is that there’s no extra cash to help that out. Wijnaldum would simply leave and Liverpool would have to replace him at a loss – unless they found someone for free, of course. Thiago is in a similar situation, after all, and could be an easy swap.
But maybe Liverpool would quite like a swap sooner? Bringing in someone for Wijnaldum is a simple way to refresh the team and that’s often a good thing. You don’t want to stagnate after a successful season.
Liverpool could use young players for that, though. And if they do, having Wijnaldum around to keep things consistent is probably a good thing.
So what should they do?
There’s no easy answer and in truth, the positives for both decisions sound good to us. In that respect, Liverpool can’t really lose here, whether Wijnaldum is around for the next year or not.
That only works if Thiago comes in, though. If they can’t get him, then quite unquestionably, they should keep Wijnaldum. His experience and ability certainly outweigh any fee they’d get for a 29-year-old in his final year.
If they have a choice, perhaps it should be up to Wijnaldum. We suspect Barcelona will try and avoid paying for the player, instead looking to sign him on a pre-contract. If Wijnaldum wants to head there, then we can be pretty certain he’s staying for a year.
That may be at the expense of Thiago, though, as Liverpool wouldn’t really have room for him. And that would be a shame. Personally, it would be exciting to have a few years of Thiago over one more of Wijnaldum.