With the club season drawing to a close, and the European Championships only a fortnight away, we sat down with BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former Liverpool and England midfielder shared his thoughts on Liverpool signing Ibrahima Konaté, Tottenham being better off without Harry Kane, and Celtic’s potential head coach headache.
John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool don’t need Harry Kane; they should be focusing on bringing in a new centre back
“Liverpool don’t need to buy a striker this summer. They have players who will score plenty of goals already. One position Liverpool must prioritise this summer is in the centre back position.
Everyone wants Harry Kane, if he is available and teams need a player like him, but this isn’t someone that Liverpool need so he won’t necessarily be on their radar.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool don’t need more strikers, they must focus on other positions as a priority
“Liverpool have got Diogo Jota, who can play up front, as well as Sadio Mané. They [Liverpool] will only need to sign a new striker, if they lose the current striking options they already have. Don’t forget Divock Origi is still there too, so they have plenty of striker solutions able to play at the club.
Liverpool are looking for a centre back and depending on whether Xherdan Shaqiri or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain go, potentially another midfield player.
A striker is not top of their wanted list for the summer window.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Konate is a very positive signing for Liverpool, he’s incredibly talented
Obviously, a centre back coming in would be great for Liverpool, but with Joe Gomez, Virgil Van Dijk and Joël Matip coming back, they were right to sign Ibrahima Konate as a defensive choice. From what I’ve seen of him, he’s an incredibly talented player with all the right attributes to have a very good career at Liverpool. It’s a positive signing for the club.”
“If you look at what Liverpool needed in January, it is not surprising to see that we have signed Ibrahima Konate, but not Ozan Kabak. Ozan Kabak is someone the club brought in short-term, but Ibrahima Konate is a player who would be in front of Kabak in the pecking order in terms of buying on a long-term deal and playing in the first team.
John Barnes Exclusive: Virgil Van Dijk is a bigger miss for Liverpool, than Dias would be at Manchester City
“Rúben Dias came into a Manchester City team who still have lots of great players, and if he [Dias] doesn’t play, Manchester City wouldn’t miss him as much as Liverpool have missed Virgil Van Dijk.
Virgil’s impact has been fantastic, so it is great that he is on his way back to full fitness. Liverpool have a great chance next season of doing well if he is playing most of the games.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Virgil Van Dijk skipping the Euros to focus on next season is the correct call
“Virgil Van Dijk wouldn’t be ready for the Euros as he hasn’t played any club football all season. You can’t just throw him into a tournament because he is suddenly back from injury – he’s not played football for such a long time.
Therefore, having a good pre-season, and getting some more rest to be ready for the start of the season is the right thing for both Liverpool and Virgil Van Dijk himself.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Manchester City will sign a striker following Agüero’s departure, but they’ve proved that they don’t need one
“Manchester City have played much of this season without a centre forward and still won the league quite comfortably. The way that they play is completely unique. They can play Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and many others as a false number nine.
They will still look to bring in a striker, in case anyone gets injured. They have Ferran Torres, who has also had a really good season, but they will still want to bring in reinforcements.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Kylian Mbappé suits Manchester City more than Erling Haaland or Harry Kane
“Kylian Mbappé, is more suited to Manchester City than Erling Haaland or Harry Kane. Haaland is a big bustling kind of a player, he can hold the ball up, but out of the three choices Mbappé fits best.
However, who said Kylian Mbappé is leaving Paris Saint-Germain? You can talk about where Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo are best suited, or who best suits Manchester City, but, if they have no realistic chance of getting them, or they are not leaving their current clubs, what is the point in discussing it?
Realistically, Kylian Mbappé will stay at Paris Saint-German, but Erling Haaland is the one who could go there [Manchester City].
Ultimately, whoever goes there will do their job and score goals because they are good players.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Arsenal are in a better position moving forward than Tottenham Hotspur
“Arsenal are in a better position than Tottenham Hotspur because they have implemented the younger players like Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka into their first team squad, and could be bringing back Joe Willock after a successful loan spell from Newcastle.
With the method of promoting youth into the first team, you have to give it time. Arsenal seem prepared to afford the squad and Mikel Arteta time, and the club like what Mikel Arteta is doing. Their other solution would be to spend £200-300 million. However, now that they have chosen not to, people cannot expect Arsenal to suddenly challenge for the top four. Although, if they give it time, their squad could develop and eventually they will get back there.
At Tottenham, it looks like Harry Kane will be leaving. Depending upon who Spurs bring in to replace him, and the lack of clarity over their managerial situation means that Arsenal are a more stable outfit at this moment in time.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Tottenham could be better without Harry Kane
“Dominic Calvert-Lewin is not going to leave Everton to join Tottenham. Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings would be more realistic, but no one can assume that Tottenham will be able to even sign them.
Everton are going from strength to strength under Carlo Ancelotti and with the new stadium as well, maybe he’s happy there, so why would he leave?
Tottenham will be looking at all the top strikers outside of the top six clubs, and all of them could do a brilliant job for Tottenham. Spurs may be able to attract them, but you know what football is like, players come, and players go, and no one can guess the transfers will happen. Whoever replaces Harry Kane at Tottenham will have to be a big-name player.
The current Tottenham side finished seventh with Harry Kane, but they could sign someone who can score as many goals as he did, and still finish fifth. Does that mean that player has done better than Harry Kane because they’ve played in the team that finished fifth?
Tottenham aren’t looking for someone that can score goals if it only leads them to a tenth-place finish, they’re looking for somebody who can play for the team and improve it, rather than relying on one person. Look at Philippe Coutinho when he left Liverpool, they [Liverpool] didn’t worry about replacing him, and went on to win the league.
It’s not about replacing individuals; Tottenham could be better off without Harry Kane. They would have to produce different solutions to win football matches.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Nuno Espirito Santo would be the best fit for the Tottenham manager job
“Nuno Espirito Santo would make a great appointment at Tottenham. Brendan Rodgers is another option, despite potentially not wanting to leave Leicester City, he’d be a great fit for Tottenham. There’s also talk about Mauricio Pochettino returning, but you wouldn’t assume that there’s much chance of him leaving Paris Saint Germain or being sacked in his first year.
Nuno Espirito Santo would be the best fit for Tottenham, his connections and knowledge of the Portuguese market along with getting players that aren’t particularly expensive are very good qualities. It could work nicely as Tottenham are quite frugal when it comes to spending money, and he’s a very good coach.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Celtic right to delay the announcement of Howe, but it must be in place before next season
“Celtic simply had to wait till the season finished, what would the point of announcing something before the season finishes? There is no point at all.
As much as people want to know who is coming in to take over, Celtic have done the right thing. There is no need to announce it before, we don’t know what’s going on and just keep hearing rumours. Of course, sooner rather than later they will have to decide, but what is most important is that a manager is in place before the start of next season.”
John Barnes Exclusive: There is no guarantee that Eddie Howe will be backed financially
“There is no guarantee that Eddie Howe will be given considerable funds to change six or seven of the players, or whether he’s been appointed to come in and work with what they’ve got and improve the current squad.
“Obviously, they need to improve wherever they can. It may be that a big overhaul is needed, and that will determine the direction of where the club is heading.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Steven Gerrard must be Manager of the year despite Callum Davidson’s recent cup double
“Steven Gerrard has taken Rangers through a whole season unbeaten, so he must be Manager of the season.
Callum Davidson has done a fantastic job, taking St. Johnstone to a fifth-place finish in the league and winning the cup double. Once Rangers and Celtic exited the Scottish domestic cups, they were there to be won by anyone. He has done tremendously well to win both cups, but as far as manager of the year goes, it must be Steven Gerrard.”
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