Having failed in their pursuit of Piotr Zielinski and with Mahmoud Dahoud on the back burner until next summer, Liverpool have turned their attention to Newcastle and Georginio Wijnaldum in order to strengthen their midfield ahead of the 2016-17 season.
Newcastle, though, are insistent that they won’t even consider less than £25 for the versatile 25-year-old who has at various times played just about everywhere on the pitch that isn’t striker or defender. More than that, they want the entire £25M for Wijnaldum in full and up front.
According to the Newcastle Chronicle, manager Rafa Benitez has been told he’s under no pressure to sell in order to buy this summer, and with Wijnaldum a player the Spaniard values, it would take an impressive offer to convince the club to allow the Dutch international to depart.
Wijnaldum signed with Newcastle from PSV last summer in a £14.5M deal, and his contract runs through the summer of 2020, giving Newcastle a lot of bargaining power. Add in another round of increased revenue and transfer inflation and it’s clear the player won’t come cheap.
For Newcastle last season, Wijnaldum scored 11 goals and five assists in 38 appearances—a little better than a goal or assist every 198 minutes mostly playing on the left of midfield or in support of the striker. At Liverpool, though, it’s hard to see him getting much time there.
With Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, and Adam Lallana better options in the attacking support band and the likes of James Milner and Sheyi Ojo also available, Wijnaldum would likely have to look elsewhere for minutes if he moved to Anfield this summer.
It just so happens, though, that for Netherlands he has at times taken on a deeper role in midfield, and in that role he could be viewed as something of a like-for-like replacement for Joe Allen, competing for minutes with Emre Can, Jordan Henderson, and Marko Grujic.
Still, that deeper role doesn’t seem Wijnaldum’s best, an issue that left many similarly puzzled by the club targeting Zielinski earlier. Neither player seems best suited to play in a double-pivot, and neither seems likely to be a regular starter ahead of the attacking midfield options already at the club.
Regardless of questions of fit, though, it’s clear the club are interested. Now the question becomes whether they’re £25M-interested.