A Sit Down With John Barnes – 20.05.21

With the Premier League concluding this weekend, and the Champions League final creeping ever closer, we sat down with BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The Liverpool legend presented his thoughts on Harry Kane’s looming exit from Spurs, England’s Euro 2020 squad selection, and Celtic’s managerial dilemma. 

John Barnes Exclusive: Kane should go to Chelsea or Manchester United 

“Nothing in football is surprising. Harry Kane is a Tottenham fan and loves the club, but modern-day football players come and go. This whole idea of loyalty, you support a club, being a one club man, nobody is like that anymore. He is not disloyal at all; it is modern football. If he stayed, that would be surprising. He must decide what he wants to do for himself. 

As far as the three clubs go, he should pick Chelsea or Manchester United rather than Manchester City. If he goes to Manchester City, he is not going to be the player he is at Tottenham, because at Tottenham he is the creator, goal scorer and the focal point for everything. Whereas, at Manchester City, he wouldn’t be that as there are other players that provide for him, it is a more comprehensive way of playing that he wouldn’t be used to. 

Chelsea and Manchester United need a centre forward. Manchester United have good players around them. They have got Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood, but they really need a number nine. 

Chelsea also need a striker, and it seems as if Thomas Tuchel doesn’t fancy Tammy Abraham or Timo Werner.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Kane’s request to leave is better for Tottenham now, than after this season

“These things take time. If you waited until the end of the season, and Harry Kane goes off on holiday, and other people [from Tottenham’s board] are away, a deal might not happen. If Tottenham aren’t going to be in the top four, what difference does it make if he announces he is leaving? The sooner it can happen for Tottenham [Kane leaving], it is better to replace him.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Jürgen Klopp’s man management skills are down to the characters in his squad

“Jurgen Klopp’s man management skills are aided by the character of the players he has in his squad. Regardless of whether Liverpool players are upset because they don’t play, they perform, they try, they are respectful in training and don’t sulk to the media.

While you can see the petulance that Mané showed the other night [against Manchester United], it doesn’t affect the group or their relationship with Klopp. It is an instantaneous act of petulance, but it isn’t held onto, there are no grudges held with these players at Liverpool. 

Whereas, at other clubs we see the petulance of one player can affect the whole group, the training, and there will be stories coming out. It has a lot to do with Klopp’s man management skills which are fantastic, however, the character of players is what he looks at. 

John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool will challenge for the title next season

“Liverpool’s ambition should be to win the Premier League next season. The character of these Liverpool’s players cannot be questioned, they don’t sulk and always give one hundred per cent. They still have that hunger and determination to win leagues. They haven’t become complacent from winning the title last season. Next season it is expected they should be equally as good as previous years.”

Liverpool lost three centre backs to injury then the midfield, and for weeks, pundits said that could be an issue, yet after not playing well, they ‘don’t know what the issue is. That [losing the players to injury] was always going to be the issue, and that issue was not going to change, even if they went on a run of winning four or five matches. Liverpool were always going to be inconsistent.

Once Liverpool have a full squad again centre backs returning, they will be consistent again.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool don’t need to replace Roberto Firmino and should only strengthen if there are departures

“Roberto Firmino is so important to the team with the way he plays regardless of whether he scores or not. Depending on if they lose players, it may determine if they must bring other players in. Don’t forget they still have Diogo Jota to come back, who is their regular starter. How many players do Liverpool really need? It is more important to see if Liverpool lose players. If Liverpool don’t lose any players, they don’t necessarily have to bring any in.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Harry Maguire deserves more credit

“Harry Maguire doesn’t get enough credit. He really has been fantastic for Manchester United this year. He has been probably their most consistent player this year.”

John Barnes Exclusive: With his recent injury, it will be tough for Jack Grealish to make the England squad

“Jack Grealish hasn’t played for a few months so it’s going to be difficult for him to really say he’s done enough to get picked for the Euros squad, particularly if you are talking about his position whereby you have James Maddison, Mason Mount, and other attacking midfielders who can play in that position. 

If England were struggling for other players in that position, then maybe we could take a chance on him, but with so many players already playing in that position, you shouldn’t have drop other players into different positions to accommodate Jack Grealish.” 


John Barnes Exclusive: Dele Alli will not go to the Euros

“Dele Alli has played well recently, and if he is performing at the highest level regularly, you would say he should get into the England squad. But it is not as though he has been playing well for a long period of time to then say you would put him in ahead of Mason Mount, James Maddison or even Jack Grealish.

That is a situation whereby it [the England Euro 2020 squad announcement] may pass him by.

It depends on whether England leave out a defensive midfielder to accommodate more attacking players. Dele Alli won’t be taken to the Euros as squad balance is much more important.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Youri Tielemans is good enough to play in Europe’s best teams, but not as a star player

“Youri Tielemans is a fantastic player, and he suits the way Leicester play. However, he is not an attacking midfielder who as an individual is going to go and set the world alight. He plays in a great system, and he’s very good, but he is in an environment that suits him. 

He (Tielemans) isn’t going to go to a team and be the star player, because he isn’t that type of player. In terms of him being good enough to play for the top teams in Europe, yes, he can be. He wouldn’t necessarily go on to be one of the main players at a Manchester United like Paul Pogba, currently he is just in the right environment to play well.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Brendan Rodgers should consider the Tottenham job, it is more attractive

“The Tottenham managerial job is a very attractive prospect; it is different compared to players thinking of a move there. 

Tottenham are a bigger club than Leicester. As much as Leicester have done better than Spurs this season, they are still smaller in terms of Premier League history and fanbase. Leicester have won the FA Cup and will likely qualify for Europe. However long term, you would say that financially Tottenham will be in a better position. 

If Leicester finish seventh or eighth next season, as they possibly could, will Brendan Rodgers then get another opportunity to go to what could be considered as a bigger club? Maybe not. It would be a fantastic move for Tottenham if they were to get him.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Arsenal’s future is bright, but they need to give Arteta time 

“Arsenal need to qualify for Europe, and for the Champions League. But, if you are doing what Arsenal are doing, in terms of playing young players in the first team, it is going to take time to build consistency. 

Unless Arsenal are going to spend big and recruit top players for a lot of money, they are not going to get instant success. It looks as though Arsenal are backing Arteta to build from the reserves, youth team and to promote from within, players such as Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka are the future for Arsenal, but the board and fans need to give Arteta time.

Arsenal have decided on a model that is longer term, more sustainable, and from a financial point of view, they are not spending the money on salaries they have done so in the past. 

John Barnes Exclusive: Thiago will thrive when Liverpool’s squad is back to full fitness

“Thiago will thrive when Liverpool get back to full fitness and will start to play more consistently. You could argue that he has been one of the best players in the last few games, but that doesn’t mean that the team is playing well, just that he is. 

Liverpool have been used to playing in a particular way, and while he has been very good, the nature of the type of player he is, has affected the way others play. Liverpool’s style has not been used to this type of player in midfield.  

Once that situation is resolved, and the centre-backs are fit again, Liverpool are more solid defensively. Thiago will have more of an impact, as much as he has been playing well.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool must sign Yves Bissouma to replace Wijnaldum

“Liverpool should sign Yves Bissouma from Brighton. In terms of what Liverpool want, he is the type of player that will suit how Liverpool play. 

John Barnes Exclusive: People cannot speculate as to why Eddie Howe hasn’t been appointed by Celtic

“Has Eddie Howe been offered the Celtic managers job? This is all talk. We don’t know. We can speculate but we don’t know. Speculation means nothing without knowing the full facts, so you can’t say why Eddie Howe hasn’t taken the job, may he has not even been offered the job. 

If Eddie Howe has been offered the job, but hasn’t taken it, then obviously he is waiting for something else to come along, maybe a better offer.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Paul Lambert would be a good fit for Celtic

Jürgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola would be fantastic managers for Celtic, but the fans have to be realistic in terms of who they can actually get. Eddie Howe would be as good as anybody, in terms of who they could get, and Paul Lambert would be an excellent fit as hoops manager, he is a Celtic legend, and the fans love him. 

Equally as important as the new manager, is the investment into the club to help them get back to challenging Rangers, because any manager going to Celtic will need a lot of new players. That is much more important than the managerial situation, and it will determine which manager goes to the club. Maybe a bigger name manager could be possible if the right financial backing is there.” 

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