Soccer

Liverpool receive potential Gini Wijnaldum boost amid Barcelona transfer interest

Transfer news: Who could be on the move this summer?

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Liverpool may have received a boost from an unlikely place in their attempts to keep hold of Gini Wijnaldum this summer. Wijnaldum is out of contract with the Reds next month and is reportedly a target for Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman.

Speculation over the Dutch international’s future has been rife for months, with numerous reports emerging linking him with Barca.

With his contract set to expire at the end of June, Wijnaldum has been free to negotiate with other clubs since January.

The Sunday Times reported in March that he had signed a pre-contract agreement with Barcelona to become Joan Laporta’s first signing in his second spell as club president.

While it is Laporta who is negotiating such a move, it is Koeman who is driving it, having managed Wijnaldum during his spell in charge of the Dutch national team between 2018 and 2020.

Wijnaldum has been a key figure in Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side in recent years and has made 46 appearances across all competitions so far this season.

He has been with Liverpool since moving from Newcastle United in 2016 and has helped win the Champions League and Premier League under Klopp’s management.

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The 30-year-old’s potential free transfer not only fits in Koeman’s needs, but also Barcelona’s financial constraints.

Eurosport reported recently that Lionel Messi is willing to sign a new Barca contract and take a pay cut, provided the club show ambition in the transfer window.

Another Netherlands international, Memphis Depay, is thought to be on Koeman’s transfer wishlist, which also includes Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland.

However, Koeman’s plans for the summer transfer window could be blown out of the water by news from the Middle East.

Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi has long been considered a candidate to take Koeman’s job during the turbulent last several months, which has included confusion over Messi’s future, the presidential election and the coronavirus pandemic’s impacts.

Now reports from Qatari sports channel Alkass state that Xavi is set to leave his position as coach of Qatari club Al Sadd at the end of the season.

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Xavi left Barcelona in 2015 to finish his playing career with Al Sadd before taking over the club as manager upon his retirement in 2019.

He has long been groomed as a potential Barca manager and he even rejected the job in January 2020 following the sacking of Ernesto Valverde.

Having come through the club’s academy and played for Barcelona for 17 years between 1998 and 2015, the 41-year-old has the philosophy ingrained in him and is a definite threat to Koeman.

Barcelona’s form has improved under the former Everton and Southampton boss in recent months and with four games left to play they are third, two points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid.

However, the round-of-16 defeat by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League and poor start to La Liga still count against Koeman, who cannot be sure of his job going into the 2021/22 campaign, with Laporta taking over as president and Xavi becoming available.

It seems therefore that his transfer plans might have to be put on hold too.

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