Rio Ferdinand’s lavish praise for Georginio Wijnaldum has laid bare just what a talent Liverpool allowed to depart for free this summer.
Wijnaldum is leaving the Reds at the expiry of his contract this month despite declaring he wanted to stay at Anfield “for many more years”
The Dutchman attracted interest from a host of top clubs across Europe including Barcelona and Bayern Munich before signing a three-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain.
Liverpool were unwilling to hand Wijnaldum – who turns 31 in November – a three-year extension due to his advanced years, as this would contradict the recent transfer policy of sporting director Michael Edwards.
But Wijnaldum proved yet again he has the technical ability and the engine to run the show with a brilliant performance in the Netherlands’ 2-0 victory over Austria, which secured the Oranje’s qualification to the last 16 of Euro 2020.
Ferdinand delivered a glowing verdict on the former Newcastle United star after the match which may well leave Anfield chiefs questioning their decision not to bow to the player’s demands at the negotiating table.
“I think they have got players that can play on this stage and think about the importance of their midfield, both (Frenkie) De Jong and Wijnaldum have to perform for this team to perform well,” the Manchester United legend told BBC Sport.
“Wijnaldum I thought was the driving force behind his team. They are always going to get chances from the way they put the press on, they win the ball and the transition was good today.
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“Then it is about execution on the end of it and they have to do that if they want to go further in this tournament.”
Liverpool fans’ heartache over Wijnaldum was added to on Wednesday when he sent a message to Jurgen Klopp to mark his former manager’s birthday.
“You’ve been an inspiration to me these last five years and a fantastic boss,” wrote Wijnaldum on Twitter.
“Thanks for always believing in me and supporting me in the amazing way you did! Wishing you a happy birthday and all the best #JurgenKlopp.”
Klopp’s farewell message to Wijnaldum after it was confirmed he was leaving in late May tugged on the Anfield faithful’s heartstrings even more.
The German said: “Where can I start? It’s very emotional for me because I lose a friend, that is how it is, but it’s normal for these kind of things to happen.”
“Everything will be fine, nobody can take away our memories from us, we will share them together,” added Klopp. “I told him that after the game, he sees it the same way.”