‘A Sit Down with John Barnes’ – 12th August 2021

Ahead of the Premier League’s return this weekend, we sat down with BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former Liverpool midfielder shared his thoughts on why Manchester City should have signed Harry Kane over Jack Grealish, Liverpool’s lack of summer reinforcements and what Messi’s arrival at PSG could mean for Neymar and their Champions League hopes. 

John Barnes Exclusive: Mohamed Salah committing his future long-term is superb news for Liverpool

“With Mohamed Salah set to sign a new long-term contract at Liverpool, which will take him up to the age of 34 or 35, I’d imagine this would be his final big contract. There’s a great chance he’ll remain at Anfield long-term. 

“If Salah signs this new deal, maybe when he’s 35 he might leave for China or Qatar. But right now, he has his best years ahead of him, and it’s great news for Liverpool if they get a deal done.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool have plenty of cover for Firmino 

“Liverpool don’t need another number nine to compete with Roberto Firmino or to cover potential injuries. They already have Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane, who can play down the middle. 

Mohamed Salah also scores plenty, so they have viable options as a replacement if Firmino is off the pitch. 

“Divock Origi is still at the club, and as much as we expected him to be gone, Xherdan Shaqiri remains too. With all these options, attacking reinforcements won’t be a priority for Liverpool in the summer window.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool’s squad is built to compete with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea

“Liverpool made two big signings last season in Thiago and Diogo Jota, when no other big club made additions. 

“With Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez coming back, and Ibrahima Konate added into the team, Liverpool will have no issues challenging the likes of Manchester City or Chelsea.

“Other clubs have made big signings this summer, but all of these returning, healthy players will be like new signings for Liverpool. The club will have the core of their squad back, without which last year they couldn’t show what they were capable of. 

“Manchester United and Manchester City have lost one or two players, so they needed to make signings, but with Liverpool’s current squad there is no need to make any additions.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Manchester City should have signed Harry Kane, not Jack Grealish

john barnes

“Harry Kane is much more important to Manchester City than Jack Grealish is. City aren’t lacking creativity, they create endless chances with players like Raheem Sterling, Bernado Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.

“Bringing Grealish in was great, but it was more important they found a centre forward. They need a guaranteed goal scorer, Gabriel Jesus is okay, but he’s no Sergio Aguero – Harry Kane guarantees goals.

“It will be fascinating to see how Grealish fits in this squad. Would Pep have to leave out Phil Foden, Sterling or even Bernardo Silva? City are signing players that match the profile of those they already have. 

“Whilst it is good to sign a 26-year-old English player [Grealish] for the future, he doesn’t improve them. Harry Kane does.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Without a centre forward, Manchester City are the same team as last season

“Manchester City won the league last year and reached the Champions League final. With the way they play, they don’t need a number nine. 

“A creative midfield player will not improve them. Kevin De Bruyne is going to be the main man, Jack Grealish will not be taking over as their main playmaker. 

“Not many teams can play with two playmakers, as anybody who has played with Messi has discovered.
‘They are the favorites to win the Premier League, and they can win the Champions league. They’re a fantastic side, but a true centre forward would improve them greatly. Without one, they will be the same team as last year.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Despite signing Lukaku, Chelsea’s defensive frailties make Manchester City title favourites

“Even when Chelsea sign Romelu Lukaku, Manchester City are still the favourites to win the Premier League. Chelsea are getting a superb centre forward [in Lukaku], but defensively they could struggle. Thiago Silva is not the player he once was, he’s at the tail end of his career.

“Manchester City have a much better squad balance. Though Chelsea’s squad is significantly improved with the addition of Lukaku.

“Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, are all several additions away from really challenging City. 

“Perhaps if Chelsea sign the two best centre backs in the world they could compete, but would they really want to join Chelsea?


John Barnes Exclusive: If Virgil Van Dijk is match fit, Jürgen simply must start him against Norwich

“Virgil Van Dijk has one or two games under his belt now, and his knee is completely fine following the injury. If he’s match fit, Jürgen Klopp should put him straight in. 

“Virgil’s worked tirelessly from the end of last season and this pre-season. Liverpool won’t start him and then substitute him off, you don’t substitute a centre back, barring injury. 

“It’s down to the club to assess. We can expect he will start against Norwich.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Tottenham have time to replace Harry Kane, but they can’t expect a replacement of his calibre

“Tottenham understand the Harry Kane predicament and won’t be caught out by surprise, whatever happens. If Harry Kane leaves, they won’t be thinking to themselves ‘oh we didn’t think he was actually going to leave. Who can we get now?’ Clubs are more prepared than that. 

“It will be a question of who is out there, and who could Tottenham realistically land to replace Harry. 

“Obviously, they won’t find anyone on his level, there aren’t too many. People like Robert Lewandowski aren’t going to go to Tottenham Hotspur.

“They will have something in mind [if Kane leaves], similarly to Aston Villa with Jack Grealish. Everyone watched them spend a lot of money before it was confirmed.

“Once Tottenham get the funds from his potential move, they will have adequate time to find a replacement. In terms of who they sign, Ollie Watkins perhaps?


John Barnes Exclusive: PSG’s summer signings mean nothing if it becomes the Messi show

Paris Saint-Germain’s summer singings will not necessarily make them stronger than last year or Champions League favourites.

“Sergio Ramos is 35 years old, and we don’t know if he will play every week.

“Having superstars is great, but the team’s balance is pivotal. Neymar may not be the same player alongside Lionel Messi. Philippe Coutinho struggled alongside him [Messi]. In fact, Neymar wasn’t the same player at Barcelona that he has been for PSG.

“Neymar is a main number 10 that can do it all, but with Messi there, he might not be.

“The balance is important, it also means Kylian Mbappé may not be as prolific if it all becomes about Messi. It will be interesting to see how it works out for them. 

“Having these players won’t necessarily make them a stronger favourites to the win competition.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Steve Bruce can survive the season, if Newcastle start well

Steve Bruce will certainly survive this season at Newcastle if they finish in the top 10. His survival depends on how they start. 

“Fans will support them if they are winning, but if they lose, it will be equally as difficult, if not more for him as it was last year. 

“Fans will be back in the grounds this season, unlike last. When they looked like being relegated last year they did well because there weren’t fans booing, it meant they could play freely and came through it well.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Newcastle fans aren’t truly unhappy with Steve Bruce, it’s the hierarchy they resent

All football managers are under appreciated by fans, unless they’re Jürgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola, and going to be wining all the time.

“The ownership situation at Newcastle doesn’t help Steve Bruce. They [the owners] have bought him in, and that animosity between fans and owners doesn’t help. It isn’t personal with Steve. 

“The fans aren’t happy with the hierarchy, and they bought him to the club, so by extent, fans are unhappy with him too.

“Football can change overnight though, especially if you’re winning.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Signing Joe Willock is top business for Newcastle

“Joe Willock is great business for Newcastle. He scored a lot of goals towards the end of last season which saved them. It’s also good business from an Arsenal perspective. 

“His performances and goals last year didn’t mean he’d go back to Arsenal and get in the team, similarly to Jesse Lingard at Manchester United, after his spell at West Ham.  

“It’s a very positive move, Joe has a good attitude, has found a place to play regular football and will show his worth. He could have easily gone back to Arsenal and tried to get in the team, but he made an excellent decision moving on.”


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