Wijnaldum-Thiago Update: Where are we now?

Ritchie Slack

This transfer story rumbles on, and on and, well, on: Bundesliga (and now European) champion Thiago Alcantara in, Premier League winner Gini Wijnaldum out. Reports all over Europe yesterday were suggesting that should Wijnaldumleave Liverpool for Barcelona, former Barcelona man Thiago will come in as his replacement. With Dutchman Ronald Koeman taking the managerial hot seat at the Spanish giants, rumours have been racing around that Wijnaldum – now in the last year of his contract – is on Barcelona’s transfer wishlist.

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by Ritchie Slack (@Slack_9)

Georginio Wijnaldum’s contract talks at Liverpool have seemingly stalled. There’s now a real possibility that one of Klopp’s prized assets will leave on a free next summer. But, of course, there’s another option: Striking whilst the iron is hot this summer and cashing in on the player who still commands a hefty fee (£25-30million).

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This is a move which makes sense for all involved. There are question marks over Barca’s finances and how much money they have (or indeed haven’t) got to spend on transfers, and they would be able to secure Wijnaldum at a cut-price fee given the 29-year-old has just one year remaining on his current contract. Koeman knows he can trust Dutch compatriot too; in what will prove to be a tough year for the new Barcelona manager he needs all the support he can muster.

I say this through gritted teeth, but from Wijnaldum’s perspective, who wouldn’t want to have the opportunity to play for the Catalonians after winning pretty much everything there is to win with Liverpool? A new opportunity beckons.

However, reports suggest that Barca will need to offload players first before securing any incomings. Vidal and Rakitic are just two names touted to be heading for the Barca exit door.

As a fan of Wijnaldum, I would love nothing more than for him to stay. He is a tried and trusted member of the team and we know what he can do/has done for the club. Let’s not to be swift to forget his European heroics against the very club he is rumoured to be leaving for. Let’s also not forget that hugely important goal against Middlesborough on the final day of the 2016-2017 season which helped secure Champions League football. Wijnaldum is a consistent performer who recycles play, does all the nitty and gritty, is great on the ball and who, most importantly, fits Klopp’s system.

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Then again, you would be forgiven for thinking I am describing the man who is rumoured to replace him… Thiago Alcantara. Whilst I am sure fans would love to see Wijnaldum and Thiago link up together on the pitch, that is highly unlikely. It’s seemingly one or the other.

It’s no secret that Thiago, also 29, is desperate to join Liverpool. In fact, I think every man, woman and child knows Thiago would love nothing more – it’s verified information. Bayern Munich have repeatedly said that nothing will be finalised until after the CL Final; well now there could be movement.

Many outlets have reported (Kevin Palmer/Sunday World, SoccerLink, SPORT) that should Wijnaldum move to Camp Nou, Thiago would be his replacement. SPORT have also mentioned that Manchester City are stepping up in their pursuit of the Spaniard, but Liverpool have a ‘considerable advantage’ in negotiations, being champions of the world and all! Arsenal have also been linked. With Thiago almost certainly moving on from the Champions League winners it seems evident he will grace the Premier League, but in which shirt?

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Much like Wijnaldum, Thiago’s contract is due to expire next summer which means Liverpool could also secure a cut-price deal for the central midfielder, or Bayern would risk losing this world-class talent on a free next summer, or for an even lower fee in January.

We know Klopp is keen. Thiago is said to want to leave Bayern and will tell the Bavarian chiefs of his desire to play for Liverpool. But nothing is certain. Nothing is ever certain in the transfer market. Think Nabil Fekir.

What is assured, however, is this story has legs.

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Bayern Munich lifted the Champions League trophy on Sunday, and on-loan duo Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Perišić each played a telling part. It’s an area of recruitment which the Reds have overlooked in recent years. So given the current climate, is it a section of the market that Liverpool could (or indeed should) delve into this summer? Here’s a recap of how the Premier League champions have fared concerning loan acquisitions over the past two decades.