Jurgen Klopp says he remains positive about keeping “one of the best players I’ve ever trained” at Liverpool.
But even if the subject of his admiration, Gini Wijnaldum, chooses to do what now seems almost inevitable, and agree a pre-contract in January with Barcelona, the Reds boss insists his midfielder will remain “an outstanding professional” to the end.
Klopp has made no secret of his desire to see Wijnaldum sign a new Anfield contract. “I would be happy if he would stay here, as long as nothing is decided I am positive,” he said.
Yet time is ticking down on the Holland international’s current Liverpool contract, which expires in June. That means he is able to agree a deal in the January window with overseas clubs, and Barcelona have made no secret of their desire to tempt him at any cost.
Liverpool’s owners though, have strong thoughts on players’ salary values, and at 30 Wijnaldum is at the stage in his career where their policy dictates a shorter length. They are unlikely to match Barcelona’s contract offer too, which has been reported in Spain as in excess of £220,000 a week.
That points to frustration for Klopp, who sees the midfielder as pivotal to his team’s pressing system. But even if the German coach seemed to indicate that he is resigned to losing Wijnaldum, he believes the player will remain the ultimate professional.
“It is no problem. We’ve had situations like this before – with Emre Can for example. He played and he gave his absolutely everything until the last day of his contract and Gini will do the same, no doubt about that,” Klopp said.
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“Gini is one of the best people I have ever met, and he is one of the best players I’ve ever trained and he is an outstanding person. so it means there is no issue, no issue at all. An outstanding professional. We are professionals.”
Never has Wijnaldum – who has now played 200 games for the club – been more important to Liverpool than this season, with their team decimated by an injury crisis that has now struck the Reds midfield.
He will be the first name on the team-sheet for the visit to Brighton, and Klopp joked that in the time the Dutchman played those 200 games, the team themselves have probably only played 205 matches.
Would Liverpool be making a mistake if they do not agree a new contract with Gini Wijnaldum? Have your say here.
While Klopp has never criticised his club’s owners, he seemed to show regret at a lack of progress in contract talks, when he added: “I am pretty happy with Gini as you can see when you look at most of the line-ups!
“He played for us in plenty of different positions and he is in a good moment thank God. Long may it continue. I cannot really say a lot about (his contract). I cannot remember a lot of bad games to be honest.”
Klopp also insisted that his close relationship with Wijnaldum would not be affected, even if Liverpool can’t keep him at the club. “Our relationship didn’t change at all over the years – it improved obviously.
We’ve won one or two things together, we know each other better. I’m interested in his life, he’s interested in my life, that is how it is, mine is not so spectacular really – but that is the truth. No harm to our relationship for ever.”
Wijnaldum could be joined in the midfield by skipper Jordan Henderson, who is back in training after suffering a muscle injury on England duty.
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