So it’s the international break, which means everyone is looking for stuff to write about.
In the press, that usually means various transfer stories start appearing again. This one is actually an old favourite: Gini Wijnaldum to Barcelona. And it features a name avid transfer season watchers will find familiar, if not always in the most positive sense: Duncan Castles.
“The Holland international has agreed a pre-contract deal to become the first signing of Joan Laporta’s second spell as president of the Catalan club”, Big Dunc Castles claims in the Sunday Times.
Now, obviously, this seems to be a move that almost happened in the summer. But a lot has changed since then.
First of all, as Castles mentions, Joan Laporta has become the new president of Barcelona. This might not actually bode so well for Wijnaldum. Laporta will run things very differently to the previous regime, and it’s far from clear that manager Ronald Koeman has a strong hand. Laporta and co will want to bring their own players in, not cast offs from the previous board.
One thing is abundantly clear: barring a very late change of heart, Wijnaldum is leaving Liverpool. That’s sad in many ways, but it is what it is. He’s had an outstanding time at the club, becoming a crucial cog in major trophy wins. He should leave with his head held high. Liverpool will need to find the right replacement, because the midfield balance this season hasn’t been right as it is.
My hunch, though, is that he probably won’t be leaving for Barcelona. They have different plans with a different president. Wijnaldum and his agent will need to keep looking.