Rafa Benitez: Why I’ll keep on playing Gini Wijnaldum, despite Liverpool link

Gini Wijnaldum
Gini Wijnaldum
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Rafa Benitez says he’ll keep playing Georginio Wijnaldum as Liverpool thrash out a £25million deal for the Newcastle United’s midfielder.

Wijnaldum came off the bench in last night’s 2-2 draw against Doncaster Rovers.

Isaac Hayden and Ayoze Perez were on target for Newcastle at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Wijnaldum came off the bench 11 minutes from time to a mixture of boos and cheers from the Championship club’s 2,252 travelling fans.

Liverpool are hopeful of concluding a deal for the 25-year-old this week.

But United, set to sign Blackburn Rovers defender Grant Hanley, are demanding the proposed fee to be paid up front, and that is understood to be a sticking point in negotiations.

And Newcastle manager Benitez has indicated that he will take Wijnaldum to Belgium for Saturday’s friendly against Sporting Lokeren unless there is a breakthrough in the next 48 hours.

“I can’t really say anything other than that we will have to wait to see what happens,” said Benitez.

“He is still our player and that means he has to be ready for us. If something happens (with Liverpool), we will now in some days.

“But until something changes, we will continue training and working with him, and we will continue playing him in the games.”

Wijnaldum is understood to be keen to join Liverpool, who are set to embark on a pre-season tour of the USA.

Meanwhile, Hanley yesterday arrived on Tyneside after Blackburn accepted a £5.5million bid from United.

And the 24-year-old will today undergo a medical ahead of a move to St James’s Park.

Asked about the proposed deal, Benitez said: “It looks like it could be close, but we still have to wait, because in football you always have to finalise things.

“At the moment, it is still a case of waiting with him.”

Hanley, should the deal go through, will become the club’s sixth summer signing.