Jurgen Klopp confirmed Georginio Wijnaldum will leave Liverpool this summer, after the midfielder waved farewell to fans during the Reds’ Premier League finale against Crystal Palace.
His Reds teammates then gave the midfielder a guard of honour after a victory that sealed their top-four finish – a clear indication he will leave the club this summer.
Jurgen Klopp paid a heartfelt tribute to the Dutchman, calling him ‘family’, before what appears to have been his last ever game for the Reds.
The Netherlands international is out of contact in the summer and has been linked with a move to Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and even Bayern Munich.
Liverpool knew they could secure a place in the Champions League on Sunday afternoon with a victory against Crystal Palace at Anfield in the final Premier League game of the season.
And they made no mistake, as the secured an ending to remember in a season to forget as they sealed a 2-0 win to, remarkably, seal third place and a spot in Europe’s top tier next season.
However, they will have to do so without a man who has played an integral role in the club’s resurgence, as Wijnaldum – who wore the captain’s armband – appeared to say goodbye to Anfield.
The midfielder’s number came up on the substitutes board in the 78th minute as he was replaced by James Milner.
Wijnaldum raised both arms as he took a long walk off the Anfield pitch, in what is likely to be his last, applauding fans on the way before embracing Klopp in a long bearhug and taking his place on the bench.
Then, after the game, Liverpool players and staff lined the pitch to give the popular midfielder a guard of honour before doing laps of the pitch to say a thank you to fans for their support in a tough campaign for the defending champions.
Klopp then confirmed the news that has been widely reported for months – that the Dutchman will leave the club this summer when his contract expires.
“It is emotional for me, I lose a friend and we’ll miss him but it’s normal in football,” said the manager. “He will find a great place for whichever club is interested”
Ahead of the game, Klopp paid a gushing tribute to one of the most important players in the club’s recent history, in Liverpool’s final programme of the 2020/21 season.
“He is an architect of our success,” the boss wrote. “We have built this Liverpool on his legs, lungs, brain and his huge, beautiful heart.
“If – and it is still is if – he goes, he does so knowing we as his team-mates are eternally grateful for having this special human being come into our lives.
“I love him and he will always be family.”
The central midfielder arrived on Merseyside on a free transfer from Newcastle United in the summer of 2016 and has since won the Champions League, Premier League and Club World Cup under Klopp’s tutelage.
And it was fitting there were 10,000 fans packed inside Anfield to see him off, as they gave a huge ovation to Wijnaldum and the rest of the Liverpool squad at the end of a difficult season.