Liverpool have to make Wijnaldum decision fast and stick with it
Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Liverpool have to make Wijnaldum decision fast and stick with it

For Liverpool supporters, having one of their key players persistently linked with a move to Barcelona has become a little too familiar in recent years.

First, there was Javier Mascherano, then Luis Suarez and of course most recently Philippe Coutinho.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 13: Jurgen Klopp the manager of Liverpool FC talks with Philippe Coutinho during the UEFA Champions League group E match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at Anfield on September 13, 2017 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Livesey – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Ever since Coutinho’s departure from Anfield to the Camp Nou in 2018, Liverpool haven’t had to face the prospect of one of their star performers seriously linked with a transfer elsewhere.

Such has been the power of Klopp to keep Europe’s biggest predators at bay as the club’s upward trajectory has ensured that it has become almost impossible for players to find another home which has consistently won the most prestigious honours in club football.

With the exception of Bayern Munich, there is arguably no fiercer footballing force currently on the continent than Liverpool.

However, the Wijnaldum saga that continues to dominate headlines has presented fans with an unwelcomed sense of deja vu as current reports indicate that the most likely scenario at this time of writing is that Wijnaldum will either leave the club this summer for a fee, or next year on a Bosman.

We’ve been here before

Perhaps what is most striking about this particular series of events is that Barcelona are not the same force that came knocking on the door for Coutinho over three years ago.

This was a team at the summit of European football who suddenly had funds that appeared limitless after the club sold Neymar to Paris Saint Germain for £200 million.

Still, it is easy to see why the prospect interests Wijnaldum given the stage of his career and the fact that some of Barcelona’s greatest ever players have also represented the Dutch national side.

Wijnaldum, 29, has won the two greatest club prizes there is to win and he could be forgiven if he felt he needed a new challenge.

(L-R) Liverpool’s English defender Joe Gomez, Liverpool’s Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk pose with the Premier League trophy during the presentation following the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on July 22, 2020. – Liverpool on Wednesday lifted the Premier League trophy at the famous Kop stand at Anfield after their final home game of the season. With no fans able to attend due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Liverpool said the idea for the trophy lift was to honour the club’s fans, but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp urged fans to respect social distancing measures, after thousands gathered around the club’s stadium and in the city centre following their coronation as champions last month. (Photo by PHIL NOBLE / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by PHIL NOBLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

If the worst were to unfold and he were to leave Liverpool, the former Newcastle United star would depart Merseyside with the goodwill of everyone associated with the club.

Also, it would be an exciting prospect for any aspiring football to become the central component in the rebuild of one of football’s most historic clubs.

The major issue right now though, however, is that nothing yet is concrete. Barcelona themselves are still yet to submit an offer while Liverpool maintain that they will not budge on price and will only think about joining the table if their £15 million valuation is met.

With this in mind, Liverpool will hope to avoid two scenarios that both unfolded during the 2017/18 campaign.

PARIS, FRANCE – NOVEMBER 28: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool speaks to Georginio Wijnaldum of Liverpool during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool at Parc des Princes on November 28, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Liverpool must remain in control

Rewind to three years ago when Liverpool, similarly to now will have been preparing for their opening Premier League fixture of the season only for the media attention to be fixated on one player following Coutinho’s decision to submit a transfer request on the day before the Watford clash back in August 2017.

Liverpool chose to keep Coutinho – who eventually left for an eye-watering £142 million fee [BBC] – and it is very much a decision that could be repeated with Wijnaldum as we prepare for the club’s title defence which is just days away.

The risk now as it was then is whether Liverpool will be maintaining a player who doesn’t necessarily want to be at the club. It is always potentially detrimental to keep hold of a player who is holding out for a move elsewhere as Coutinho did all those years ago.

This may not be the case necessarily with Wijnaldum, however. The Dutchman and Klopp were scheduled to begin talks today regarding the player’s future which could offer us a clearer picture of the club and the player’s intentions.

It’s in the interest of Liverpool to resolve this as quickly as possible and whether or not Wijnaldum is selected to play against Leeds United on Saturday could serve as the biggest indication yet as to whether he is staying or going.

In keeping him, Liverpool risk allowing the player to leave for nothing at the end of the season as they did when Emre Can departed on a Bosman to Juventus back in 2018.

If Liverpool are planning to sell then it is in the best interests of everyone that a solution is resolved so the focus can once again resume to the team rather than one individual player.

The reality is that there are risks to be weighed up on both sides. Klopp maintains he wants to keep Wijnaldum – who currently earns £70,000-a-week according to Spotrac – yet with a year on his contract it may be in the club’s best interests to sell while they still can.

Whatever happens, Liverpool will want to be the team that remains in control of the scenario and for that to happen there will need to be significant developments in the next couple of days as with the PL creeping up on us time is certainly of the essence.

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