Liverpool have made no progress on a new deal for Gini Wijnaldum and the Dutchman is expected to leave in the summer as the Reds make another evolution in their midfield.
Exactly why Wijnaldum is leaving remains to be seen, but it is likely that with other midfielders of a similar age, rather than offering him much improved terms, Liverpool would rather begin their next phase with fresh blood.
But in the meantime, Wijnaldum has remained a crucial part of the team, on course to exceed 50 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool this year, and 237 in total over his five seasons at Anfield should he feature in all the remaining games.
Not only has Wijnaldum been playing a lot, but he has also captained the side regularly as part of the leadership group that Liverpool have, with Jordan Henderson and Virgil van Dijk injured, and James Milner not a guaranteed starter.
Some have questioned whether or not that was the correct call – but Jurgen Klopp will have no doubts.
“It’s difficult without knowing the details of Wijnaldum leaving,” said Josh Williams on the Analysing Anfield podcast.
“Is he choosing to leave and have Liverpool not offered him enough, or do Liverpool want him to leave and are not offering him anything?
“But I do wonder what message it would send if, despite needing him for the second half of the season, you just give the armband to Trent Alexander-Arnold. How would Wijnaldum take that?
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“I would have more of an issue if it was, say, Emre Can, or last season when Pierre Emile Højbjerg was captain of Southampton.
“Then it is different because both Can and Højbjerg thought that their peak years were best spent away from Anfield, whereas Wijnaldum has already spent his peak years here.
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“Wijnaldum is more like Thiago leaving Bayern Munich – they were very much allowing him a new challenge and was leaving on good terms.
“I don’t think it has had any impact on what has happened on the pitch.”
“He is a really important midfielder, is an ultra-professional and brings a lot to the team,” added David Hughes.
“But I am looking at it and thinking that on the pitch, as a leader, and thinking that the season feels like it is petering out a little bit, Champions League qualification is still there and very important for this side.
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“There is a good chance that Wijnaldum will not be involved next year. So would you be better giving it to someone who is there next season?”
Several fans and pundits have questioned the call, but what Klopp might argue is that what it shows is the maturity of his squad.
Mohamed Salah has spoken out about wanting to be captain this season, but the rest have seemingly been content with the decision.
While questions remain over his future, none can be placed over Wijnaldum’s form and consistency, and if Klopp had any doubts over his temporary captain whatsoever, another path would have been taken.
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