Jurgen Klopp admits he wants Gini Wijnaldum to stay at Liverpool – but says the uncertainty surrounding the Dutchman’s contract situation will have no effect on the relationship between the pair.
Wijnaldum entered the final year of his Reds deal in the summer and is free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with clubs outside of the UK as of January 1, should he wish.
Negotiations over an extension at Anfield have not moved on at all this year, though Liverpool sources insist all parties are relaxed about the situation.
Wijnadum has been linked with a move to Barcelona, where he has a huge admirer in his former national team boss Ronald Koeman, but remains a central part of Klopp’s plans.
Indeed, no player has played more games for the club so far this season. The 30-year-old has made 201 appearances in all competitions since joining from Newcastle in 2016.
“I would be happy if he would stay here,” Klopp told reporters on Friday ahead of his side’s trip to Brighton.
“I am pretty happy with Gini. You can see that when you see most of the line-ups! He always played good, that’s why he played so many games. And he has played plenty of positions, different positions.
“He’s in a good moment, thank God! Long may it continue.
“There is nothing else to say about it. As long as nothing is decided, then everything is possible. I’m positive.”
The fact that Wijnaldum and his representatives would be free to negotiate with other clubs in a little over a month, though, presents something of an issue.
Liverpool have allowed players to leave on free transfers before under Klopp – Emre Can, Alberto Moreno, Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne all did so – but the manager does not anticipate any issue with Wijnaldum.
“Gini is one of the best people I ever met, and one of the best players I ever trained,” he said. “He’s an outstanding person, which means there is no issue at all.
“It’s professional. Our relationship didn’t change at all over the years. We won a few things together, we know each other much better. I am interested in his life, he is interested in my life – which is not so spectacular, really!
“That’s the truth, it’s no problem. We had situations like this with Emre Can, for example. He gave us absolutely everything until the last day of his contract. Gini will do the same, no doubt about that.”
Liverpool could welcome back captain Jordan Henderson for the visit to Brighton. The England midfielder has trained with the team this week after missing the last two games with a groin issue.
Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xherdan Shaqiri, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk, however, are all expected to be missing.