Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp to hold Gini Wijnaldum transfer meeting as Barcelona plot raid

Jurgen Klopp will sit down with Gini Wijnaldum over his future at Liverpool on Wednesday, according to reports. The Barcelona-tracked Netherlands midfielder will touch back down on Merseyside after playing for his country ahead of his club’s Premier League opener against Leeds United this weekend.

Wijnaldum played the full 90 minutes of the Netherlands’ win over Poland and defeat to Italy in the Nations League alongside Liverpool team-mate Virgil van Dijk.

Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong was another to play both matches in full and former Dutch national team boss Ronald Koeman is keen to pair his two compatriots together at the Nou Camp.

Koeman took over at Barca last month following the sacking of Quique Setien and the 57-year-old wants to stamp his mark on the squad.

He knows Wijnaldum well having been the Netherlands head coach for two years, taking them to the Nations League final in June 2019 only for them to lose to Portugal and overseeing their qualification to a first major tournament since the 2014 World Cup.

The 29-year-old midfielder has often been deployed as a No 10 for his country having netted 18 times in 64 caps, one less than he has managed in 187 games for Liverpool.

He plays in more of a reserved box-to-box role under Klopp at Anfield but was the German’s most-used midfielder last season, making 47 appearances across all competitions.

Yet Wijnaldum is in the final 12 months of his contract and talks over an extension have stalled. Despite the player being a favourite of his manager, discussions have not been reopened.

Wijnaldum has spent four years at Liverpool since a £25m switch from Newcastle but as it stands will be allowed to leave on a free in 2021.

Barca boss Koeman, however, has urged the Catalan giants’ board to swoop for his countryman this summer – even though it means the La Liga side will have to pay a fee.

The Daily Star say Klopp will have a sit-down meeting with Wijnaldum at the club’s Melwood training base on Wednesday to discuss what happens next ahead of Liverpool’s opening match of the new league season against newly-promoted Leeds on Saturday (5.30pm kick-off).

Asked about Barca’s interest in a press conference on international duty, the Champions League and Premier League winner replied: “It’s a rumour, I have nothing to say about it.”

And quizzed about Koeman’s move to Catalonia, he added: “Of course it is a shame that he left, but we are also very happy for him.

“It can be compared to when you are in such a situation as a player. But we have to move on now.”

The Sunday Mirror claimed at the weekend that the versatile Wijnaldum, capable of being deployed in multiple roles in the middle of the park, will cost Barca around £15m.

If the player does move to Spain, Liverpool could look to launch a move for Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara to replace him.

Klopp has been widely linked with a move for the 29-year-old former Barca ace, whose contract with the German champions expires next summer.

Bayern’s price tag – which is just shy of £30m – has so far proven prohibitive even though Liverpool have only made one signing this summer in left-back Kostas Tsimikas, whose £11.75m arrival was offset by Dejan Lovren’s £10.9m move to Zenit St Petersburg.

Asked about Thiago in July, Klopp labelled the Spain international “a great player”.

And last month he added of the midfielder: “There are a lot of interesting players out there but if someone is interesting for us I can’t say right now.

“Due to Covid-19 you have to think five times about what you can and what you can’t do.

“We always have to pay attention to the financial aspect. We don’t know how much money will come in.

“Nobody knows but it seems like some other teams have a more positive outlook on the future… if you look at Chelsea for example [laughs].

“But I am very happy with my team right now. If something transfer related will happen we have to see.”

Yet despite how coy Klopp has been when responding to questions regarding transfers of late, Liverpool legend Graeme Souness suspects his old club may yet make another addition.

The former Reds captain and manager told Sky Sports: “I think it’s telling you something. I think Jurgen must feel he’s got players coming through the system to fill the gaps when the current players get injured.

“Going back to my time as a player there, Liverpool always bought players when they were on top of the pile.

“You were buying players at that time where you don’t know if they’ll come in and be an instant hit.

“I think in recent history Fabinho and Andy Robertson were both that where they got them into the club, had a good look at what they had to offer, they fitted into the system nicely when they got introduced.

“So I think that would be a real vote of confidence to the young players at the football club if they don’t buy.

“But I have a sneaky feeling that they may still have a go at someone.”

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