A Sit Down with John Barnes – 25th March 2022

As we enter the business end of the Premier League season, we spoke to former Liverpool midfielder and BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former midfield maestro discussed Raphinha being well suited at Liverpool, shortlist for the Manchester United manager job and Trent Alexander-Arnold being better suited to Liverpool over England.

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

“Roberto Firmino will not be leaving Liverpool this summer. Liverpool would love to keep him.

“If a player becomes available, they’d like to sign them, but Leeds United’s Raphinha has also been linked with Barcelona – it’s all speculation. 

“You can pick any player out of the air and ask if they’d be good for Liverpool, as I always say with the likes of Yves Bissouma, but he probably won’t come to the club, the same with Kalvin Phillips. 

“Raphinha would be a good fit for Liverpool, but I don’t expect him to move to the club.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Any of the names on the Manchester United managerial shortlist could make them challenge for the Premier League

“When it comes to Mauricio Pochettino’s struggles at Paris Saint-Germain with individual players, Manchester United haven’t got the same type of names that PSG have such as Neymar and Messi.

“PSG are unusual because they are by far the best team in France, so their players have an easy ride all the way through – apart from the Champions League. The comparison between both clubs isn’t there to be made. 


“The most important thing for Manchester United’s new manager is having complete power. Who has the power at Liverpool? Jürgen Klopp. At Manchester City? Pep Guardiola. At Chelsea? Thomas Tuchel. At Arsenal? Mikel Arteta. That’s why they are the four best sides in the Premier League. 

“All four reported Manchester United managerial options [Erik Ten Haag, Mauricio Pochettino, Luis Enrique and Julen Lopetegui] would be very good managers that are capable of making United challenge for the title once again. 

“They need the power from the fans and the hierarchy to do whatever they wish. That includes dropping whoever they want, selling whoever they want and shouting at who they want.”

John Barnes Exclusive: The Premier League is physical and Bukayo Saka must get used to it

“The comments from Bukayo Saka about needing more protection were lost in translation. Saka doesn’t need protection from any physicality in the Premier League, he feels that he should be given more fouls from referees. People assume he’s talking about being tackled too hard and that the opposition are too physical. That isn’t what Saka is talking about. 

“He may think there are fouls that aren’t being given, but he just wants to be given fouls when there aren’t any. 

“What’s happened in football, which is making the game better than in the past is that physical challenges are now being allowed. In the last ten years, up until last season, tackles that weren’t fouls, were being given. Referees are letting play go and allowing players to be more physical. 

“Because of Saka’s age, he won’t remember a time that these were considered fair challenges, and not a free kick. He only knows the last three or four years where these types of tackles are given.

“The referees are correctly not giving free kicks now and he isn’t used to it. He must understand that football is getting a bit more physical, as it was in the past. Referees will play on more.”

John Barnes Exclusive: If Paulo Dybala doesn’t join Liverpool, I hope he doesn’t come to the Premier League

“I don’t care which Premier League club Paulo Dybala moves to if he isn’t coming to Liverpool. 

“I wouldn’t like to see him play anywhere else in the Premier League because he’s an incredibly good player. For the Premier League it would be excellent to have a play of his stature though. 

“I’d like to see him stay at Juventus because if he comes here, he’d be a top player for any team that helps to challenge Liverpool for the title.

“He will be a wonderful addition to the Premier League.” 

John Barnes Exclusive: Football isn’t England’s moral compass and Eddie Howe can refute ownership questions

“We are governed by the highest authority of the land, which is the government. Where has Boris Johnson flown on a plane to get some oil now that they Ukraine/Russia was has happened? Saudi Arabia. 

“How can we therefore say anything to Newcastle United, or Eddie Howe, about Saudi Arabia from a moral point of view. It’s double standard and hypocrisy. 

“If the government said that we can no longer do business in Saudi Arabia then the question on whether Eddie Howe should speak up can be asked. 

“As long as the government, and people in business are in a specific country doing business, then every other industry should be allowed to do the same. 

“Football is not the moral guardian of a country, the government are. They dictate who we should and shouldn’t do business with.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Gareth Southgate was right to call up Harry Maguire

“I absolutely agree with Gareth Southgate’s decision to call Harry Maguire up for this England squad, despite his recent Manchester United form. 

“England are in a unique situation whereby players feel incredibly comfortable playing for the national side, more so than they are for their clubs. Harry Maguire is more confident playing for the England team. He’s never let them down, and I don’t believe he ever will. 

“In the old days, it was the complete opposite. I felt more comfortable playing for Liverpool. Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle probably felt more at ease playing for their clubs too. 

“Now, players join the England set up, even if they aren’t doing well at club level, and still play well for England. They have a comprehensive way of playing that the players understand.

“Harry Maguire is rightfully in England’s squad because he’s never let them down and will continue to play well for them. To be omitted, he’d have to let Gareth Southgate down and stop playing well for England. Until that happens, he will keep making the team.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Trent Alexander-Arnold suits Liverpool’s style of football more than England’s

“Trent Alexander-Arnold has struggled to establish himself at international level, because England also have other right backs that are playing well for their clubs.

“You have Reece James playing incredibly well, Kieran Trippier can play either right or left back and depending upon how England want to play, Trent probably suits the way Liverpool play better. 

“Trent has never let England down, but he has a much bigger impact at club level because of the way Liverpool choose to play.”

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