Georginio Wijnaldum has admitted that he expected to be joining Barcelona instead of Paris Saint-Germain upon his release from Liverpool.
The Dutch midfielder left Liverpool after a five-year spell at the end of the 2020-21 season. His contract came to an end and they were unable to find an agreement, even though he would have been willing to stay. Instead, he will be continuing his career elsewhere after agreeing to a new challenge with PSG.
It will be Wijnaldum’s first taste of French football, and it is perhaps not the destination many would have expected.
Wijnaldum had been a target for Barcelona ever since his compatriot Ronald Koeman became their head coach. At some stages, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would end up at Camp Nou.
But they eventually cooled their interest, allowing PSG to swoop in and get their man.
The ex-Liverpool star has now revealed how close he was to joining Barcelona, and what swung his decision in PSG’s favour.
“It was a difficult choice,” Wijnaldum said at a press conference while with the Netherlands.
“I actually negotiated with Barcelona for four weeks and we didn’t get it.
“PSG was more decisive and the project they have there really appealed to me.
“Yes, I admit I’m going to make more money in Paris, but my choice has nothing to do with the money.
“I have to say that I also thought I would go to Barca, the only club I’d been interested in for a long time.”
Klopp to miss Wijnaldum
After his move to PSG was confirmed, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp gave an additional tribute to his now former player.
He said: “I will miss the player he is like crazy – highest-quality ability, one of the smartest players I have ever had the privilege to coach. His contribution was off the scale, a manager’s dream.
“But as a person he’ll leave just as big a hole. A more giving individual you could not wish to meet.
“Gini is very strong and opinionated, but his motivation is only to help the team – always. His teammates adored him and respected him in equal measure.
“His smile lit up our workplace. He was a huge part of our beating heart.
“Of course, he is now someone else’s and on behalf of the team we wish him great success in France with PSG.”