Koeman reveals Messi’s role in Wijnaldum pursuit

Ronald Koeman has revealed Lionel Messi’s role in Barcelona’s efforts to snap up Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum during the summer

Wijnaldum was Barcelona’s top summer priority as Koeman insisted on bringing in the versatile midfield, but the deal never materialized.

Meanwhile, Messi was closer to leaving Camp Nou than ever after handing in a transfer request. 

The club captain was eager to part ways with the Catalan side following another Champions League fiasco and a lack of long-term planning. 

The Spanish powerhouse has eventually managed to keep hold of their headline performer, which had an influence on their transfer business. 

Koeman has now detailed how Messi’s departure could have affected Wijnaldum’s future in the summer.

“In my mind, I always assumed that he [Messi] would stay,” the Dutchman told Dutch outlet Algemeen Dagblad. 

“If Messi had left, it would’ve opened up a completely different situation.

“Our interest in Wijnaldum, in any case, was separate from [Messi]. In general, I think our squad could’ve done with a bit more depth, especially without the ball.

“Gini has great spatial awareness. He can get into the box fantastically well from the middle of the park. He really could’ve brought something to the team.

“But the club knew the economic situation. [Wijnaldum]’s position was less of a priority in the end than, for example, a right-back or centre-forward.”

Wijnaldum has made almost 200 appearances for Liverpool during his five-year spell at Anfield en route to UEFA Champions League and Premier League glory.

However, Thiago Alcantara’s arrival has changed the 29-year-old’s status in Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI.

Indeed, Gini now has to battle the Spanish maestro for a regular starting berth that could help Barcelona’s efforts to land him next summer.