Gini Wijnaldum is still planning to join Barcelona in the summer because he wants to play alongside Lionel Messi – and Dutch teammate Memphis Depay.
It has been suggested that the 30-year-old Liverpool midfielder is thinking of performing a U-turn by signing a new contract to stay at Anfield as the financial situation at cash-strapped Barca takes its toll.
But he has told friends in Holland that he still sees his future at the Nou Camp.
Wijnaldum’s head has been turned by the prospect of having Messi on his side, with the Argentine now increasingly likely to stay in Spain.
But Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman is also closing in on Lyon forward Depay – and the pair have formed a formidable partnership with Holland after Wijnaldum was asked to play as a No 10.
It was Koeman’s idea to give the midfielder a more attacking brief when he was coach of the Dutch national team.
Wijnaldum and Depay both excelled as Holland reached the final of the Nations League two years ago.
Koeman has been told by new Barcelona president Joan Laporte that there will be a limited transfer budget with the club more than £1billion in debt.
But both Wijnaldum and Depay are out of contract.
The midfielder has loved his five years at Anfield since arriving from Newcastle in a £25million deal.
He has helped Liverpool win the Champions League and Premier League in successive seasons.
And Reds’ boss Jurgen Klopp wants him to stay.
But Wijnaldum’s agent Humphrey Nijman has been able to negotiate the terms of a three-year contract that fits Barcelona’s pay structure.
Liverpool are reluctant to offer more than a two-year extension.
Wijnaldum is also attracting interest from Italy, but his focus is now on Barcelona.
Koeman wanted to sign both players last year, but the ramifications of the pandemic and the boardroom problems that had prompted Messi to demand a move meant the two deals were put on ice.
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[email protected] (Simon Mullock)
This article originally appeared on Mirror – Football