Georginio Gregion Emile Wijnaldum joined Liverpool in 2016 after a season with Newcastle United and has enjoyed some great years with the Reds.
Winning the Premier League, Champions League, Club World Cup and Super Cup with Liverpool, Wijnaldum will go down as a real club legend.
His time at Liverpool is looking more and more likely to come to an end with his contract up in the summer, and the lure of Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona, among others, on the horizon.
Nothing is concrete about Wijnaldum leaving just yet, but it is looking increasingly more set in stone – so the club’s recruitment team will no doubt already be sounding out potential replacements for a man who remains a key part of Jürgen Klopp’s plans.
But who could those potential replacements be?
Rodrigo de PaulEmbed from Getty Images
The midfielder has impressed for Udinese this season with five goals and as many assists in Serie A. De Paul was more of an attacking midfielder has has shone in a deeper midfield role as of late.
At 26, he is approaching his prime and has collected 21 caps for Argentina. Now the captain of Udinese, de Paul offers some maturity and experience that will be missing if Wijnaldum departs.
The Argentine has 30 strikes in 168 games in all competitions for the Italian side and he could add some well needed goals from midfield, if the front three are having an off day.
De Paul could cost Liverpool between £30-40m which is a bargain for a midfielder of his quality.
Florian NeuhausEmbed from Getty Images
With four goals and four assists in 22 games in the Bundesliga this season, the Borussia Monchengladbach man has had a breakout couple of years over in Germany.
Firmly in the first team now at Gladbach, the 23-year-old now has three caps for Germany and is capable of playing further upfield and on the left as well, making him the sort of versatile option that Klopp is known to value and love in his players.
Neuhaus is rumoured to cost £35million and will be a like-for-like replacement with great defensive and midfielder attributes in his locker – Liverpool have been heavily linked with him as of late, including by BILD’s Christian Falk.
Rúben NevesEmbed from Getty Images
Neves has been linked with Liverpool going back all the way to his days at Porto, He has been playing really well for Wolves for a couple of years and would be a fantastic signing.
A great box to box midfielder with an eye for a long range goal, the Portuguese would replace Wijnaldum nicely on the left side of a midfield three.
Still only 23 years old, at the time of writing, he is closing in on 200 games for Wolves and scored 20 goals so far in England. He has plenty of experience for someone his age, and his penchant for spectacular strikes from distance could also help Liverpool on the goal-scoring front.
Transfermarkt values Neves at £45m – a large fee but for a player of his quality it would be well worth it. Plus, as with the deal to sign Diogo Jota, Wolves have shown a willingness to negotiate with Liverpool, so another long-term pay plan could potentially be agreed which would make it more affordable for the Reds.
Renato SanchesEmbed from Getty Images
Like Neves, Sanches is from Portugal, seems to have been around forever and is still just 23. Sanches has played for Benfica, Bayern Munich and Lille so far permanently.
After starring at Benfica, he made a big move to Bayern Munich but it did not work out for him and he joined Swansea on loan in the Premier League – another doomed move.
Sanches joined Lille in 2019 and has since revitalised his career, playing a big part in the French side’s recent resurgence – Les Dogues currently sit atop the Ligue 1 table.
While his goal contributions aren’t quite as impressive as some of the above – one goal and one assist in 20 games this season – his stock has risen again. A £25m price tag could well be worth it for an already established star who has learned a lot in his short professional career so far.
Leighton ClarksonEmbed from Getty Images
The cheaper option would be to promote from within, and Clarkson is the best of a strong academy midfield bunch.
Curtis Jones has recently made the step up from the academy to become one of the first names in midfield this season and Clarkson could well do the same. The 19-year-old has started one game for Liverpool this season, in a 1-1 draw away at Midtjylland in the Champions League.
He looked very impressive in that game, and has now on several occasions experienced being in the matchday squad, learning what it is like to be part of the first team for a game. He has also been a key part of Barry Lewtas’ u23s side in Premier League 2 this term.
Klopp appears to be a fan of Clarkson and has been keeping tabs on his development for the last couple of seasons – he could be ready to step up to the plate and, like Jones, get some first-team minutes under his belt in the next campaign.
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