Ahead of the Premier League’s second round of fixtures, we caught up with BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former Liverpool midfielder shared his thoughts on Ibrahima Konaté and Virgil van Dijk being the Liverpool centre-back partnership, why Philippe Coutinho would be the perfect signing for Arsenal and how Steve Bruce can save Newcastle from relegation.
John Barnes Exclusive: Joël Matip played well, but Ibrahima Konaté will still be Virgil Van Dijk’s partner at centre back
“Despite a good performance against Norwich, and new players coming in at Liverpool, Joël Matip won’t suddenly up his game.
With the injury situation last year, Liverpool needed defensive reinforcements, so they bought Ibrahima Konaté. That doesn’t mean Joël Matip will try harder now than he did two years ago, when he first came to Liverpool.
It’s great for the club that Matip performed well this weekend. However, you’d think when the club spent a lot of money on Konaté, that he would be Virgil van Dijk’s number one partner at centre back.
Matip won’t all of sudden become a greater player than he was, there is obviously now competition for greater places, but at this stage of his career, and at his age, he is the player that he is.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Arsenal will have no trouble attracting talented players if they pay enough!
“Arsenal will not have any trouble attracting high-level talented players this summer. If they offer enough money, players will go to the club. That’s the name of the modern game.
This whole notion that Arsenal can’t attract quality players is rubbish, they are still a big club.
Martin Ødegaard could well be about to join them, and probably isn’t looking around for a better club than Arsenal. Obviously, Tammy Abraham decided to go to Roma, rather than Arsenal, but people will say England is where people want to ideally play, rather than Italy.
You can’t look at players turning down a club, or not going there, as a negative reflection upon the club themselves.
Arsenal won’t have trouble attracting talent, particularly with the type of players they want, though they obviously couldn’t attract Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Harry Kane.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Philippe Coutinho moving to Arsenal would be a great pairing
“A move to Arsenal would be a good one for Philippe Coutinho, if the possibility arises.
Currently, Mikel Arteta doesn’t have the level of players at Arsenal that can do what he wants them to, which is why he’s having a hard time translating his philosophy and getting players to adapt to what he wants.
Coutinho can do exactly what Arteta wants and would be a success at Arsenal.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Steve Bruce can keep Newcastle up if they play as they did against West Ham!
“Steve Bruce can keep Newcastle up, he did so last year. Losing one game at home doesn’t mean that you’ll get relegated – Manchester City would be in trouble if it did.
Looking at that game [against West Ham], they won’t be in trouble, especially if they score goals, as they showed they can, and play in an attacking way.
They didn’t handle the game brilliantly. They were open [defensively], which allowed West Ham to cut them open on the counterattack and score goals. They must strike the right balance between attack and defence.
It wasn’t the greatest first game, but you cannot judge the first game of the season. People mustn’t get carried away. As the season progresses, we’ll see where Newcastle are and what they need to do to survive.”
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