Klopp answers Wijnaldum question which could lead to Liverpool exit

In amongst the frenzied carnage of the Merseyside derby, it was easy to overlook the answer to a question on the lips of many Liverpool fans since the start of the summer.

Jurgen Klopp spent weeks acting coy over the speculation linking Thiago Alcantara with a move to Anfield, all the while insisting Georginio Wijnaldum's contract was all in hand.

Indeed in the days leading up to Thiago's arrival, Klopp all-but put an end to rumours suggesting Wijnaldum could depart to Barcelona.

“All good with Gini? Yes. Absolutely fine about the future as far as we are involved in that," Klopp said last month.

“Between me, Gini and the club, it is all completely fine. Apart from anything to announce."

That statement was then reiterated when he said of Thiago's impending move: "If it happens then I can say it will have no impact on anyone’s future in a negative way.

"It doesn’t mean that someone needs to leave."

While that has since proved to be the case, with Wijnaldum remaining at Liverpool beyond the end of the summer transfer window, Klopp's decision on Saturday will not have been lost on the Dutchman.

After the dismal 7-2 mauling at Aston Villa – where Wijnaldum was among the stars to underperform – changes to Klopp's lineup were inevitable.

Even so, Wijnaldum will not have been pleased to find himself on the bench for the biggest Merseyside derby in recent memory.

Klopp is often a stickler for playing his best XI in the games that matter.

And instead of his formerly trusted trio, he went for the midfield many fans expected to be his preferred selection once the Thiago deal was over the line.

The ex-Bayern Munich star has not come to sit on the bench, after all, and was joined by Fabinho and Reds' captain Jordan Henderson in what looks to be Klopp's new-look midfield.

Wijnaldum has thus been given the clarification he was perhaps waiting for – that he is no longer first choice.

Despite holding positive talks with Liverpool last month, the 29-year-old is still yet to put pen to paper on a new contract, with his current deal set to expire in June.

And while an injury to Thiago in the dying minutes may offer Wijnaldum an immediate return to the side for Wednesday's meeting with Ajax, Klopp's stance will certainly have planted a seed of doubt in his mind.

The decision now resting with him is whether he feels he sees his future elsewhere.

All this is against a backdrop of Wijnaldum's former Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman admitting publicly he wants the midfielder to join him at Barcelona.

In an obvious charm offensive, Koeman told AD this weekend: "Our interest in Wijnaldum was separate [to Lionel Messi's future]. I think our squad could use some depth, especially when we haven't got the ball.

"Gini has a great sense of space, he can get to the goal fantastically well from midfield, he could really add something to the team.

Do you think Wijnaldum will leave Liverpool next summer? Have your say below.

"But the financial situation was known by the club, his position was ultimately less of a priority than, for example, the right-back or the striker position."

Liverpool are unlikely to let Wijnaldum leave in January, particularly given the severity of Virgil van Dijk's injury.

But that does not stop him opening discussions with foreign clubs with regards to a free transfer next summer.

Such a deal would be a perfect scenario for Barcelona.

And after Klopp made his preference clear, it could be for Wijnaldum too.

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