KEY POINTS

  • Gini Wijnaldum could join Barcelona on a free transfer this summer
  • His current Liverpool deal is due to expire at the end of the season
  • He has missed only two games for Liverpool this season

Liverpool FC midfielder Gini Wijnaldum is reportedly set to join FC Barcelona during the 2021 summer transfer window.

Wijnaldum has agreed to pre-contract terms with Barcelona and is set to become the first signing under Joan Laporta’s presidency at Camp Nou, The Times reported.

The Netherlands midfielder has been at the top of the target list of Ronald Koeman ever since the manager took charge of the club ahead of the 2020-21 season. The two had worked together at the Netherlands national team between 2018 and 2020. Even during the extended 2020 summer market, Koeman had tried his best to bring Wijnaldum to Camp Nou but a deal never materialized for several reasons, including Barcelona’s financial crisis amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Wijnaldum, whose Liverpool deal is due to expire at the end of the 2020-21 season, will join the Catalans as a free agent this summer.

Liverpool signed Wijnaldum from a relegated Newcastle United at a transfer fee of $31 million in the summer of 2016. In each of the five seasons at Anfield, Wijnaldum made 40-plus appearances and has established himself as a key member of Jurgen Klopp’s era.

In the ongoing campaign, Liverpool have been hit with many injuries but Wijnaldum has been the ironman of the team. He has missed just two out of Liverpool’s 42 matches. He is also a part of the club’s leadership group, alongside the skipper Jordan Henderson and the vice-captains James Milner and Virgil van Dijk.

In an interview earlier, Klopp had admitted that he would like to see Wijnaldum stay at Liverpool beyond his contract. "I would be happy if he would stay here. I am pretty happy with Gini as you can see when you look at most of the line-ups," the Reds boss had said in November.

During Liverpool’s last Champions League outing against RB Leipzig, Wijnaldum had also admitted that it would be devastating to move away from Liverpool if that happens in the near future.

"It would be really difficult [to leave] because if that happens, you will leave a team who you really love, who you have shared a lot of years together with and where you feel really comfortable. It will be difficult but on the other side, you don't know the situation and why you have to leave, so it all depends on the situation. But I will be devastated that I am not going to play for this team anymore for sure, " Wijnaldum said in a press conference.

Brighton's Steven Alzate (2L) celebrates scoring at Liverpool Brighton's Steven Alzate (2L) celebrates scoring at Liverpool Photo: POOL / PHIL NOBLE

The 30-year-old Wijnaldum has made 226 competitive appearances for Liverpool so far and has netted 22 goals, including the double he had scored during Liverpool’s memorable Champions League semi-final second leg clash with Barcelona at Anfield in 2019. Liverpool had won the European tournament that season, by defeating Tottenham in the finals in Madrid.