For months it has been believed that Gini Wijnaldum was going to join Barcelona on a free transfer, but that won’t be the case after all after Paris Saint-Germain got involved.
The Liverpool midfielder confirmed after the final Premier League game of the season that he would be leaving Anfield after five seasons at the club, where he won the Premier League and Champions League.
It was believed he would be joining former Holland coach Ronald Koeman at the Camp Nou, after the club chased his signature all of last summer but ended up not having the funds to get Liverpool to agree to a sale.
Following the announcement that he’d be leaving Liverpool, there were several reports that he had agreed a three-year deal with the La Liga side and would join the club on a free transfer.
All that was left to complete were medicals, but Holland manager Frank De Boer stated that he didn’t want transfers to distract his players and was hopeful that nothing like that would happen during his Euro 2020 camp.
But now that delay has seemingly cost the Barcelona hierarchy the player’s signature, because PSG have swooped in and trumped their contract offer to convince the Dutchman to sign with them instead.
According to highly-reliable journalist Fabrizio Romano, manager Mauricio Pochettino was heavily involved in getting Wijnaldum to change his mind and sign for the Ligue 1 side.
Pochettino is desperate to bolster his midfield after missing out on the French title to Lille last season and crashing out of the Champions League in the semi-finals to Manchester City.
While Marco Verratti is one of the untouchables in midfield, his injury record is a huge issue. Constantly missing chunks of the season has seen him limited despite his obvious quality, while Pochettino relied heavily on Leandro Paredes last season.
The three of them as a trio would provide plenty of steel, energy and quality on the ball but also allows for Pochettino to play with a faster tempo. Last season he was forced to use Ander Herrera, Idrissa Gueye or Danilo in that third midfielder role and they often slowed the game down too much and allowed defences to get back in place quickly.
Wijnaldum will be used to the fast transition game coming from Jurgen Klopp’s side and with Pochettino coming from the Premier League too he’ll know all about the 30-year-old’s qualities. He tried to sign him for Tottenham when he left Newcastle back in 2016, but Wijnaldum opted for Liverpool instead.
The decision for Wijnaldum is a simple one. He’ll start for both teams but right now there is far more promise in the PSG project when it comes to winning trophies and he’ll be earning a considerable amount more money.
It’s a good move for the club and the player in a tight transfer market where funds are limited. As for Barcelona, they had counted on this deal being done but they’ll now need to re-think their squad plan and strategy ahead of the new season.