Liverpool are increasingly resigned to losing Gini Wijnaldum at the end of the season, as Barcelona close in on a deal.
The Reds are adamant that so far, they have not been informed of any pre-contract agreement between the midfielder and the Spanish club, despite reports suggesting an agreement has been penned.
And Barcelona have now also distanced themselves from the reports, which originated in the Catalan media, claiming they have not yet come to any formal arrangement with the player.
But the Dutch international is now able to sign a pre-contract with an overseas club, and he has made clear he won’t sign the offer which Liverpool are understood to have left on the table since last summer.
Wijnaldum wants his status as one of the key members of the Anfield title-winning squad recognised, after signing – and seeing out – his current deal back in 2016, when he arrived from relegated Newcastle.
But he admitted only recently that he will be “devastated that I am not going to play for this team anymore”, if he can’t thrash out a new deal with the Reds.
That though, now seems hugely unlikely, with the Liverpool finance people adamant they have strict financial limits on players who, like Wijnaldum, have passed the age of 30 when it comes to new contracts.
Like Emre Can before him, Wijnaldum has been allowed to get to the end of his contract as the Reds refuse to be held to ransom.
Barca still seems the most likely destination, with the Catalans looking to refresh their squad under strict financial limits of their own…and the lack of a transfer fee is attractive for a club who must cut their spending substantially.
The chance for Wijnaldum to link up with his former international boss for Holland, Ronald Koeman, also appears to be an opportunity too good for him to pass up.