Wijnaldum relieved to seal PSG move in time for start of Euro 2020

AFP , Saturday 12 Jun 2021

Wijnaldum agreed a three-year deal in Paris having at one point appeared set to join Barcelona, where the coach is his former Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman

Georginio Wijnaldum
Georginio Wijnaldum speaking to reporters on Saturday ahead of the Netherlands' Euro 2020 opener against Ukraine. Photo: AFP

Georginio Wijnaldum says he opted to sign for Paris Saint-Germain instead of Barcelona because the French club were quicker to make their move with the midfielder eager to sort out his future before starting Euro 2020 with the Netherlands.

"Paris Saint-Germain were a bit better at making a decision, a bit quicker, and the project that they have in PSG is really interesting," Wijnaldum said on Saturday as he explained his decision to sign for PSG under freedom of contract from Liverpool.

The 30-year-old agreed a three-year deal in Paris having at one point appeared set to join Barcelona, where the coach is his former Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman.

However he indicated that the Catalans were not quick enough to complete a deal before the start of the European Championship, with the Netherlands playing their first game against Ukraine in Amsterdam on Sunday.

"It was a difficult choice I have to be honest. Barcelona was really interested in me but PSG was clearer in making that decision," said Wijnaldum, who has spent the last five seasons at Liverpool and was a key player in the side that won the Champions League in 2019 as well as the Premier League title last year.

"I am really happy that everything has been sorted out because during the tournament you need to be focused on playing and nothing else.

"It has been quite hectic, there were many things going on so I had to make a decision.

"These are two very big clubs and you want to play for them both but in the end I made the decision to play for PSG and it is a big relief."

Wijnaldum, who was speaking alongside Dutch coach Frank de Boer ahead of Sunday's game against Ukraine, also said the Netherlands team would not take the knee after being asked about the gesture used to highlight racial injustice.

The gesture has been adopted in the Premier League and England players will continue the kneeling gesture in the Euro, despite boos by some fans before recent friendlies against Austria and Romania.

"As a group we decided not to kneel down before the game. We had some meetings and spoke about it as a group, but before all this only the players in England had been doing it," Wijnaldum said.

Scotland this week said their players will take a stand in an anti-racism gesture ahead of their three Euro 2020 group matches rather than taking the knee.

The Netherlands will also play Austria and North Macedonia in Group C as they make their return to a major tournament after failing to qualify for Euro 2016 or the 2018 World Cup.

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