It’s a shame it’s come to this. Liverpool stalwart Georginio Wijnaldum has broken his silence on his departure from the club this summer – and he hasn’t held back.
The Dutchman, who made the switch from Merseyside to Paris last month after his Reds contract expired, has spoken out on his summer exit.
Wijnaldum played a pivotal role in the club’s Champions League and Premier League success. No Reds fan will ever forget his sensational double off the bench in the remarkable comeback against Barcelona at Anfield en route to European glory.
Georginio Wijnaldum (L) broke his silence on leaving Jurgen Klopp’s (R) Liverpool this summer
Ultimately the Liverpool hierarchy – club owner John W Henry pictured – were reluctant to go against their strict policy of refusing to give out long, bumper contracts to players over 30
Wijnaldum joined PSG on a three-year deal after his Liverpool contract expired in June
In five top-flight seasons the midfielder missed just 11 matches – a staggering feat considering the rigours of modern day football – and rarely did he put in a bad display.
He was one of very few players that Jurgen Klopp could rely on and continually drove the engine room as the likes of Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita struggled with injuries and flitted in and out.
It came as a surprise and a disappointment that the Merseyside giants were unable to reach an agreement over new terms and instead were happy for his contract to wind down.
‘There was a moment I didn’t feel loved and appreciated,’ the 30-year-old said as he shed light on his exit at the weekend. ‘Not [by] my team-mates, not the people at Melwood. From them I know, I can say they all love me and I love them. It was not from that side, more the other side.’
It’s not clear who the Holland international was referring to when he said ‘the other side’ but it could be seen as aimed at those in power at Anfield.
To lose him to French giants Paris Saint-Germain – who Liverpool could play in Europe – for nothing was painful. The fact that one of Liverpool’s most consistent performers in recent times didn’t feel valued hurts.
The Dutch midfielder’s final game for Liverpool saw him given a guard of honour on the pitch
Ultimately the Liverpool hierarchy – the FSG owners – were reluctant to cave in and go against their strict policy of refusing to give out long, lucrative contracts to players over 30.
Another disheartening takeaway from Wijnaldum’s disclosure was that he felt unfairly treated by some of the club’s fans online.
‘I have to say also there was social media. When it went bad I was the player who they blamed – said that I wanted to leave.
‘Every day in training and in the game I gave everything I had to bring it to a good end. During the years, Liverpool meant so much to me and also the way the fans in the stadium were treating me.
Wijnaldum was instrumental in Liverpool’s Champions League and Premier League success
Wijnaldum will be sorely missed by Liverpool boss Klopp and the majority of supporters
‘On social media, if we lost, I was the one who got the blame. There was a moment when I was like ”wow, if they only knew what I was doing to stay fit and play every game”. You get players in their last year who are like, ‘I’m not playing because it is a risk’.
‘I did the opposite. I was training hard, I was giving everything. I didn’t always play good but after the game I could look in the mirror and say ”I trained hard to get better”.
‘I think the fans in the stadium and the fans in social media – my feeling was that they were two different things. In the stadium, I can say nothing bad about them. They always supported me.
‘Even when they came back [into the stadium], already knowing that I was going to leave they still supported me and in the end they gave me a great farewell.’
Liverpool find themselves with a similar dilemma with Jordan Henderson’s future uncertain
WIJNALDUM AT LIVERPOOL
2016-17: 36 apps, 43 chances created, 87.3 per cent passing accuracy
2017-18: 33 apps, 22 chances created, 89. 9 per cent passing accuracy
2018-19: 35 apps, 25 chances created, 91.1 passing accuracy
2019-20: 37 apps, 18 chances created, 90.8 per cent passing accuracy
2020-21: 38 apps, 21 chances created, 92.7 per cent passing accuracy
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher defended his former club over Wijnaldum’s departure and hit back at the Dutchman’s comments, insisting the new PSG star ‘wanted more money but the club said no’.
Last season Wijnaldum played all 38 games in the Premier League, created 21 chances and had a passing accuracy rate of 92.7 per cent. No other Liverpool midfielder showed such high levels of solidity.
Wijnaldum, arguably, had some bargaining power given his influence on Klopp’s juggernaut in recent seasons, but ultimately football clubs are businesses and money talks.
Liverpool now find themselves in a similar predicament with skipper Jordan Henderson.
The England star’s future is uncertain as Sportsmail understands that talks of a new contract beyond 2023 are at a standstill with a lack of clarity over when or if negotiations will continue.
It’s sad that Wijnaldum’s exit has turned sour and the Reds will want to avoid a repeat of what has boiled over in recent weeks.
He will be sorely missed by Klopp, his former team-mates as well as the majority of supporters – and Liverpool may well live to regret letting the Gini out of the bottle.