Ahead of the next round of Premier League fixtures, which includes the North London Derby, we caught up with BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former Liverpool midfielder shared his thoughts on Liverpool’s ideal midfield signings, Marcus Rashford being Manchester United’s future, and Aston Villa’s European prospects.
John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool need to stop using Covid as an excuse and just get on with it
“If Liverpool can go into the market and get players of equal quality, that’s great but they’re probably not able to. They’ll have to make do with what they have. They are no different to other teams who are also suffering with Covid. Everyone is struggling with players missing so they [Liverpool] must get on with it. They have to get on with it, they can’t look for excuses and they need to cope with it.
“If there’s someone Liverpool can get who they feel will improve them then they will do that, but they won’t just buy players for the sake of it.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Jude Bellingham or Yves Bissouma would be great players for Liverpool
“Jude Bellingham would be a great acquisition for Liverpool, but I can’t see him coming in January, if at all. Yves Bissouma, at Brighton, also fits the profile for one of Liverpool’s three midfielders. Those are two players that Liverpool should be looking at, but I can’t see either of them are going to happen in January, they’re ones for the future.
“If we look at Manchester City, they will want a completely different type of player; someone who’s comfortable on the ball and who has a different profile. But for Liverpool, they want hard working midfielders who have a good work rate, high energy, a willingness to get up and down the pitch, and don’t dribble too much.
“Bellingham and Bissouma are two players that would suit Liverpool whereas other clubs might look at other options.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Phillipe Coutinho won’t be the main man at Aston Villa
“Phillipe Coutinho doesn’t have to prove anything at Aston Villa. He’s shown what he can do in England with Liverpool. It didn’t work out for him at Barcelona but that doesn’t mean he’s not highly thought of.
“Steven Gerrard knows what he can do and how he can get the best out of him, but he has to come and be part of the team. He can’t come and dictate to Villa that he’ll be the main player because Villa are a very good team, who have a good way of playing and he has to fit into that, as well as adding to the quality.
“They’re not going to give him the ball and expect him to win matches because Villa don’t play that way and they’re successful enough to not rely on him for that. They’ll have to find the right balance to get Coutinho in the right areas, rather than him coming in to be the superstar – which I don’t think he is. It’s a good signing.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Ronaldo has damaged Mason Greenwood’s development
“The amount of minutes Cristiano Ronaldo has played this season has surprised me but that shows that they need him because they haven’t been performing consistently. That has worked against Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood because it means that they’re not playing regularly.
“With Bruno Fernandes as well, it means they won’t all play but it’s swings and roundabouts. If they spend £80 million on Jadon Sancho, he should be playing every week. Rashford and Greenwood have been there long enough to decide whether they want to be big-time players. That’s also a decision for Manchester United to make.
“But Ronaldo’s signing has worked against the younger players.”
John Barnes Exclusive: “Marcus Rashford is the future of Manchester United”
“Marcus Rashford is the future of Manchester United, along with Greenwood and Jadon Sancho. Rashford should play every week if he’s fit.
“The focus has been [Bruno] Fernandes, [Paul] Pogba and Ronaldo and the team selection has reflected that, even when he’s been fit. He’s suffered a bit in confidence but having so much focus on Pogba, Ronaldo and Fernandes has detracted from the younger players which has really worked against them.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Mikel Arteta is a great manager
“I didn’t see the Arsenal game against Nottingham Forest game so I’m not sure why Mikel Arteta pulled Nuno Tavares off after 30 minutes.
“We don’t know what happens week to week in training and what goes on in terms of their relationship so we can’t just judge it based on a 30-minute performance. I always loath to praise or criticise managers when they make decisions like that because we don’t know the ins and outs of what goes on. It’s brave of him [Arteta] and I think he’s doing a fantastic job.
“They lost to Nottingham Forest but they’re doing well in the league and the future looks bright for Arsenal. Arteta is doing a great job.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Aston Villa would struggle to keep Ollie Watkins if Arsenal wanted him
“Ollie Watkins wouldn’t move to Arsenal in January so depending on what Arsenal want, they could wait until the end of the season. Aston Villa will obviously want to keep him because he’s one of their main players but money talks and he’s a proven goal scorer in the Premier League.
“Dušan Vlahovic is an unknown quantity in the Premier League, but we know he’s a good player. However, this will all be decided at the end of the season. It’s not going to impact Arsenal between now and the end of the season.”
John Barnes Exclusive: It’s almost impossible to improve the team in January
“There aren’t many great players available in January. If you’re a middle of the road Premier League team, you might be able to buy better players than you have in the squad but none of the top teams are going to be able to improve on the players they have.
“That’s been reflected in years gone by as there’s never been much money spent by the top teams in the January window. I’ve never liked the January window, especially not if you need to improve the team.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Kieran Trippier will be vital to Newcastle
“Kieran Trippier has been a great professional and he hasn’t gone to Newcastle for the money because he’ll have earned that money at Atletico Madrid or elsewhere. He’s a good character and certainly something that they would want around the squad.
“If you look at a player who wants £300,000 a week and then goes to Newcastle, you can say that he’s there for the money, but Kieran Trippier didn’t go there for the money at all.
“Newcastle have to be careful with new signings because the player that Newcastle may want, or need, to help them finish in the top four is a different profile of player that they need to keep them up. That is why they won’t be buying any big-name players because they’re not the ones they want in a relegation dogfight.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Nathan Patterson is good enough for Everton
“Nathan Patterson is a steady player and that’s what Everton want. He hasn’t gone to Everton to be a superstar, because he’s not, but Everton identified left back as a problematic position because Lucas Digne has now left.
“Patterson is good enough for Everton at this moment in time, but he’s not going to help Everton win the league or even improve them that much. He’s going there to help get the harmony, spirit and togetherness in the dressing room right and he’s good enough to do that.”
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