Jurgen Klopp has paid an emotional tribute to “wonderful” Gini Wijnaldum as he revealed the message he gave the midfielder on his Liverpool farewell.
Wijnaldum made his 237th and final appearance for the club by helping them secure Champions League qualification with a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at Anfield on Sunday.
The 30-year-old, who is out of contract in the summer, was given a standing ovation by the 10,000-strong crowd on his late substitution and after the game was afforded a guard of honour by the Reds squad and backroom staff.
And Klopp has insisted any clubs interested in Wijnaldum – who is linked strongly with Bayern Munich and Barcelona – would be given an emphatic reference.
“I met this wonderful player in my living room at home as I had to see him and talk to him,” said the Reds boss, recalling the first meeting with the player ahead of his £25million arrival from Newcastle United in 2016.
“From the first moment it clicked between us because he is a very friendly, very smart and very open person. That never changed. It just improved.
“It is very emotional for me because I lose a friend and I will miss him but it is normal in football that these things happen.
“I’m really sure he will find a great place. Each club who is interested in him should call me and ask me, because then they would take him – definitely.”
Klopp added: “I couldn’t be more positive about what he did here. He was incredible. He was not only always available, he played 90% of the time really, really good.
“People might not know exactly what I mean with good because sometimes it’s not that spectacular.
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“But from the young kid who was an offensive number 10 to become a winger at Newcastle, to come here as a controlling midfielder, that is a massive step. you can only do that if you understand the game.
“He scored incredible, important goals – Barcelona, Cardiff was very important, Middlesbrough. So many top, top class performances.
“Now it looks like the time is over but nobody can take our memories from us. We will share them forever
“I told him that after the game, and he sees it the same way.
“Goodbye would not be tough if the time you had together was not worth it. It’s really tough, because we had a great time together.”