‘A Sit Down With John Barnes’ – 23th February 2022

After a week in which the Premier League title race was blown wide open, we caught up with BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The Liverpool legend discussed the Liverpool’s contractual standoff with Mohamed Salah, Fred’s unfair criticism and where Leeds United’s Raphinha could be playing his football next season.

John Barnes Exclusive: Thiago Alcantara is Liverpool’s most creative midfielder  

“Against Norwich, Liverpool were struggling until Thiago Alcantara came on the pitch. They were one-nil down, but they were in the game. This type of game is suited to Thiago. 

“When you play against teams and dominate possession, they aren’t necessarily going to attack you and will defend deep. Liverpool’s best three midfielders, like Jordan Henderson and Fabinho who help protect the defence, but aren’t suited to that type of game. 

“You need someone who will create, and Thiago is Liverpool’s best creative midfielder.

“It will be the same throughout the season, depending upon the game. For example, if Liverpool face Manchester City, then Jürgen Klopp may not start him, but Liverpool could dominate possession and need harder working players in midfield. 

“Klopp will chop and change [the midfielders] as he does with the front three.”



John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool mustn’t give in to Mohamed Salah’s contract demands

“If Mohamed Salah wants a 10-year contract, that takes him up until he’s 40 years old and he want’s £300,000 a week, should Liverpool really accept that? Of course not.

“Liverpool cannot accept every single contractual demand; they are making the right decision [by not giving in]. 

“They are simply looking at Salah’s age. They love Mo, and they want him to stay, but there must be a compromise on both sides. If he was 28 and wanted a five-year contract, then fair enough.

“The days of just accepting a player’s every contract demand are gone.”


John Barnes Exclusive: To be considered a Liverpool great, Mohamed Salah must stay at Liverpool

“If Mohamed Salah stays at Liverpool for the next three or four years, then he will be one of the best Liverpool players ever. 

“Equally if he leaves after five years as Luis Suárez and Fernando Torres [did], then where would he rank?

“To be an all-time great, you must stay at a club for several years, and if Salah stays for a few more, then he would be up there with one of Liverpool’s greatest ever players. 

“What’s most important though, is what Mo does whilst he’s at the club. Right now, you can’t look further than the end of the season, before seeing if the contractual situation can be sorted. They can be very complicated.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Jadon Sancho’s sudden change in form reflects the wider team’s inconsistency this season

“Jadon Sancho isn’t necessarily thriving ahead of the other Manchester United players under Ralf Rangnick. The team has been inconsistent, and so has Jadon. 

“He’s had two good games where he’s played well, but that doesn’t suddenly mean he’s playing well every week. Manchester United’s players will only be as consistent as the entire team.

“Sancho is a fantastic player, he’s got great potential, but he’s also a young player who needs to come into a team that’s playing well, without putting pressure on him to be the team’s main player, despite his price tag. 

“Teams should want young players to come into the side and play with no fear or pressure, but unfortunately, he will be under pressure because of the price tag.

“It’s pleasing that he’s done well over the course of the last few games, but he still needs to develop and learn.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Fred is underrated and disrespected

“Fred deserves more respect for the job he’s doing on the pitch for Manchester United. 

“Fred and Scott McTominay in the midfield have unfortunately been playing in games with a front four who don’t work as hard off the ball, which means the two of them are overrun [by opposing players]. 

“As much as teams may get at Manchester United’s back four easily, it’s not because of those two. Fred’s been treated very unfairly and judged rather harshly. 

“You cannot just have two midfielders doing all of the off-the-ball work when you have a front four who really haven’t also worked tirelessly when out of possession to help supplement them. 

“Fred is a good player who every time he’s played has done okay. Ralf Rangnick is correct that he deserves more respect.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Mauricio Pochettino would be the best option as manager for Manchester United 

“Erik ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino would both be excellent managerial choices for Manchester United. 

“Whoever gets the job must be given complete authority and autonomy to do whatever he wants and to play however he wants. 

“For a few years now, Manchester United have been all about the players and not the managers. Their players have undermined managers who have ended up losing their jobs. 

“Whoever comes into the role, much like Mikel Arteta [at Arsenal], when he won that battle with Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, has to be in the same type of situation.

“Mauricio Pochettino knows English football and has been there [the Premier League] before, and whilst ten Hag is a great manager, he doesn’t know English football, so I’d lean more towards Manchester United hiring Mauricio Pochettino.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Manchester United fans need to start blaming the players and not the manager

“When Manchester United’s team doesn’t perform, the fans have to stop booing the manager and blaming him and blame the players instead. If Chelsea were to lose, Thomas Tuchel wouldn’t get blamed, the same with Manchester City; if they were to lose Pep Guardiola wouldn’t be blamed either. 

“Manchester United’s players must take responsibility. 

“It was the same with Arsenal to begin with under Mikel Arteta, who then won that battle and now has the power with their players. 

“The United players should jump if the manager tells them to jump. When Jürgen Klopp tells Mohamed Salah to jump, he jumps, but at Manchester United they don’t do that [listen to the manager].

“Whoever takes over permanently at Manchester United in the summer, must be given the power over the players.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Arsenal haven’t disrespected Jack Wilshere by not offering him a contract

“When people talk about Arsenal giving Jack Wilshere a potential contract, there’s no sentiment involved in football. Jack Wilshere left Arsenal because he wasn’t good enough for them. Why should they suddenly bring him back now?

“Jack is a good player, but you can’t look at things with sentimentality. 

“Jack has to go and play his football wherever he wants, and he shouldn’t look at his previous training arrangements as disrespect from Arsenal. He left such a long time ago with his injury situation.

“It’s not a situation whereby Arsenal have disrespected Jack in not signing him.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Chelsea will not change their tactics just to suit Romelu Lukaku

“Chelsea and Romelu Lukaku have to get used to one another. Chelsea aren’t doing badly [despite his lack of involvement]. They are European Champions, in the Carabao Cup final and are playing well. 

“Obviously they’ll want Romelu to get more involved, but it’ll take time. Lukaku must get used to what Thomas Tuchel wants from him. 

“Chelsea won’t change their team just to suit one player; Liverpool and Manchester City wouldn’t do that. They’ll find a way to get him more involved.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Tottenham’s best starting 11 can beat anyone

“Looking at the first 11 players that Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City can put out on the field, there really isn’t a big gulf in class between the two. If you’re talking about 19 or 20 players, that’s when there is a difference. 

“If Tottenham field their best 11, then they have a chance of beating anybody. They have Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min, Lucas Moura and other really good players. 

“Manchester City have still beaten Tottenham before. It was one game that Manchester City lost [last weekend], and they hadn’t lost for a long time.

“Tottenham don’t have a magic spell over Manchester City. They beat them this time round, but even then, Manchester City could have won the game.

“It’s not a mental block from Manchester City [when they play Tottenham], it’s just one game.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Raphinha would be a great fit for Liverpool 

“If teams like Leeds have a superstar player, as Leeds do with Raphinha, then it’s easy to see them moving on. 

“I could see Raphinha playing for Liverpool more so than any other team because of his dynamism. Manchester City would look for a more technical player, but because of the way Liverpool play it will suit him.

“Leeds fans would want him to stay, but if a big offer came in, he would leave.”  


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