Georginio Wijnaldum says he decided to join Paris Saint-Germain ahead of Barcelona because the Spanish side took too long over negotiations.
Wijnaldum, currently on Euro 2020 duty with the Netherlands, joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer from Liverpool, signing a three-year deal with the Ligue 1 club earlier this week.
Wijnaldum left Liverpool at the end of the season after opting not to sign an extension to his contract at Anfield, and will now play under Mauricio Pochettino in France.
However, his move to Paris came after Barcelona and Bayern Munich had both been trying to sign the midfielder, with the Spanish side locked in talks with the Netherlands captain for up to four weeks.
“I made another choice. It was very difficult. I was negotiating with Barcelona for four weeks, and we never reached a final decision,” Wijnaldum revealed ahead of Netherlands’ Euro 2020 opener against Ukraine on Sunday.
“Paris Saint-Germain were a bit better in making a decision. They were quicker. And the project that they have at PSG it really appealed to me.
“It was a difficult choice I have to be honest. I thought I would be moving to Barcelona because they were the only team who were really interested in me, but we did not reach an agreement together.
“PSG were much clearer in making that decision.”
Wijnaldum, who made 237 appearances for Liverpool since joining from Newcastle in July 2016, won the Champions League and Premier League during his five-year spell at Anfield.
Jorge Mas, the co-owner of Major League Soccer team Inter Miami, is “optimistic” Barcelona forward Lionel Messi will play for them in the future.
Messi’s Barcelona contract is due to expire at the end of June but Barcelona president Joan Laporta said earlier this month talks over a new contract were progressing well.
Spanish media reported Barcelona have proposed a new 10-year deal to Messi where the Argentine will play two more seasons before ending his playing career with two seasons at Inter Miami.
The 33-year-old Argentine, who wanted to leave Barcelona last summer, will then return to the La Liga club from Florida for six years as a global ambassador, the reports added.
“I am optimistic Messi will play in an Inter Miami shirt because I think it will complete the legacy of the greatest player in our generation and will meet with the ambitions of the owners of Inter Miami to build a world-class team,” Mas told the Miami Herald.
Mas said he and fellow co-owner David Beckham were determined to bring world-class talent to the Miami club, who are 11th in the 14-team MLS Eastern Conference.
Six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi has scored 672 goals in 778 appearances for Barcelona – both are all-time records for the club.
“David and I have been working really hard, we have aspirations of bringing the best players here and Messi is a generational player, arguably the best player of all time,” Mas added.
Inter Miami are managed by former England women’s manager and Beckham’s ex-Manchester United team-mate Phil Neville.
Ronald Koeman will remain Barcelona’s coach next season, club president Joan Laporta said on Thursday.
Koeman’s future at the club was in doubt after a disappointing season in which the Catalan giants missed out on the La Liga title, were knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16, and only won the Copa del Rey.
The former Netherlands boss still has a year left on his contract at the Nou Camp and Laporta confirmed in May they were “evaluating” the head coach, while Sky Sports News understood other options were also being assessed.
However, Laporta – who took over from Josep Maria Bartomeu as club president in March – announced the club would be sticking with Koeman after a meeting of the club’s board of directors on Thursday.
“After this period of reflection, vice-president Rafael Yuste and myself have agreed that we will continue with the current contract that Ronald Koeman has.
“We are very pleased to see that these talks have borne fruit in a unity of judgment.”
Barcelona have already moved to bring in new players in the transfer market and secured Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia on free transfers when their deals with Manchester City expire in July.
The club are also in talks to extend Lionel Messi’s current deal which is set to expire in the summer.
Eric Garcia will join Barcelona from Manchester City when his contract at the Etihad Stadium expires at the end of this month.
The 20-year-old will sign a contract until the end of the 2025/26 season and with a buy out clause set at 400m euros (£344m).
Garcia was officially unveiled on Tuesday in a behind closed doors presentation due to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions.
Garcia, who graduated from Barcelona’s La Masia academy before joining City in 2017, rejected the offer of a new contract at the Premier League champions last summer.
Barcelona had previously seen a bid of £15.4m (plus add-ons) rejected by City in October 2020 with the club wanting closer to £20m for the defender.
The defender joined the famous Barcelona academy in 2008, before leaving for the Premier League and making his Man City first-team debut aged 17 in a Carabao Cup game against Leicester City in December 2018.
The departure of Vincent Kompany and injury to Aymeric Laporte opened up more opportunities for the defender who in total made more than 30 appearances for Pep Guardiola’s side.
However, after expressing his desire to leave, Garcia made only 12 appearances in all competitions and started just three games this season as Guardiola’s side won a Premier League and Carabao Cup double.
The defender has represented Spain at U16, U17 and U21 level before being capped seven times at senior level. He made his debut against Ukraine last September and has been included in Luis Enrique’s Euro 2020 squad.
The move comes a day after Barcelona unveiled fellow Manchester City player Sergio Aguero at the Nou Camp, the record goalscorer joining on a deal until the end of the 2022/23 season.
The Spanish giants are also confident of securing the services of Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum on a free transfer as well and have also been linked with Lyon’s Memphis Depay.
Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona finished third in La Liga, seven points behind champions Atletico Madrid, but did win the Copa del Rey this season.
Sergio Aguero is joining Barcelona from Manchester City on a deal until the end of the 2022/23 season and was unveiled at the Nou Camp after signing his contract on Monday.
The forward was presented in a Barca kit and greeted the media on Monday evening after completing a medical in the afternoon prior to signing a two-year deal.
Aguero will move to Barcelona on a free transfer but the Catalan club have said Aguero’s buyout clause is set at €100m (£86m). He will officially become a Barcelona player on July 1 after his City contract expires.
Aguero’s departure from the Etihad was announced at the end of March after Pep Guardiola informed City’s record goalscorer of the club’s decision not to renew his deal.
The 32-year-old, who was signed from Atletico Madrid in 2011, has been restricted in his appearances this season due to injuries and illness.
Upon his arrival at the Nou Camp, he said: “We all know that Barcelona are the best club in the world so I think I made a great decision to be here and I hope to help the team.
“Of course it is a step forward in my career and hopefully I can help the team win things. I want to play and help this squad, and if the team does it well, I will be happy individually.
“I want to send a big hug to everyone, to all the supporters I will try to give my best and hopefully the fans will enjoy my skills. They enjoyed me in other shirts but now I am here.
“I have changed a little bit. When I arrived in Europe to Atletico Madrid at 18 years old, I learned a lot, then I played for Manchester City in the Premier League.
“Now I have changed my way of playing, but I have an idea of where I can play and I will try to help my team-mates with my experience.”
Aguero, one of the most influential players in City’s history, leaves the club after winning five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, and six League Cups.
Despite helping City reclaim the league title this season, Aguero bowed out after coming on as a substitute against Chelsea in the Champions League final, which his side lost 1-0 at the Estadio Do Dragao in Porto.
City thank ‘legend’ Aguero
City confirmed the move in their own statement and thanked Aguero for his “incredible contribution”.
“Sergio Aguero will join Barcelona when his Manchester City contract expires at the end of June,” City said.
“In March it was confirmed a statue of the City striker has been commissioned to stand alongside those currently in work to honour David Silva and Vincent Kompany. His legend will further be marked by the installation of a dedicated and permanent mosaic at the City Football Academy.
“Everyone at Manchester City would like to take this opportunity to thank Sergio for his incredible contribution to our success over the last decade and wish him well on the remainder of his career.”
The Argentina international scored 260 goals in 390 appearances in all competitions under Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and Guardiola, and leaves as the fourth-highest goalscorer in Premier League history and as City’s all-time record scorer.
Guardiola had paid an emotional tribute to Aguero after the striker’s double on the final day of the Premier League season against Everton, saying: “We love him so much – he is a special person for all of us. We can not replace him.”
Garcia to follow Aguero?
Eric Garcia is expected to follow Aguero in joining Barcelona this summer. The defender is a product of the La Masia academy and Guardiola brought him to the Etihad in 2017, but he made just six top-flight appearances this season.
Barcelona won the Copa del Rey but missed out on the La Liga title this season, finishing seven points behind league winners Atletico.
Aguero will link up with long-time Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi at the Nou Camp. Joan Laporta, the club’s president has said he is “moderately optimistic” over the prospect of Messi signing a new contract, while the Spanish club are also confident of securing the services of Georginio Wijnaldum, who appears set to leave Liverpool.
Meanwhile, Guardiola says he is planning on staying at City for the long term because the club “gives the manager everything he needs”, after the Spaniard guided the club to a third Premier League triumph under his tenure.
‘Barca confident of Aguero impact’
Analysis from Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero…
“It is not the same Aguero which shone for Manchester City a few seasons ago or even the one which played for Atletico Madrid here in La Liga.
“Barcelona have learned an important lesson. Last year they thought that Luis Suarez was not fit enough and was not a good striker for an important club.
“With Aguero 33-years-old next Wednesday, the feeling is that maybe he is not the person he was five or six years ago but that he can have an impact in two years at the club.
“They believe that the Argentinian is better than many strikers who have arrived over the last few seasons.
“No one wants to pay such a huge wage to Lionel Messi and it seems that the arrival of Aguero, one of his best friends in the world of football and close friends for the last 16 or 17 years, could be a huge step to make Messi stay at the club.”