‘A Sit Down with John Barnes’ – 27th April 2022

Ahead of this weekend’s crucial Premier League fixtures, we caught up with Liverpool legend and BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. He gave us his thoughts on Liverpool’s treatment by Premier League referees, Declan Rice being exactly what Manchester United are looking for and why Gabirel Jesus would be a phenomenal signing for Arsenal.

John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool aren’t given special treatment by Premier League referees

“Premier League referees aren’t favouring Liverpool in their decisions any more than Manchester City, or other teams.

“First and foremost, when you play against Liverpool or City you don’t have a lot of goal mouth action. This isn’t a new discussion – it’s been mentioned in the past with Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsenal under Arsène Wenger.

“Whoever sits atop the league concedes less penalty chances because there aren’t as many occasions for them to be given with less play going on in their box. 

“Yes, Liverpool were fortunate on Sunday against Everton. I felt Everton should have had a penalty, but that isn’t a trend, it’s just one of those things.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Roberto Firmino will start bigger games ahead of Luis Díaz

“Despite the way Luis Díaz is playing, Roberto Firmino hasn’t slipped down the pecking order at Liverpool, at all.

“If Firmino is 100% fit, he’s likely to play in the biggest games ahead of Díaz, but he’s just been injured recently. He’s very important to Liverpool, he is one of my favourite players and he’s certainly one of Jürgen Klopp’s. 

“If Liverpool cashed in on him this summer and others got injured, then what would they do? He’s a valuable member of the team and squad. At his age they aren’t going to get £80 million for him – so they shouldn’t sell him.”

john barnes

John Barnes Exclusive: Chelsea can’t be held to ransom by Rüdiger and Christensen over their contracts

“The fact that Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen will leave Chelsea for free this summer, is not bad planning by the club.

“If players decide not to sign a new contract, what can clubs do? The clubs cannot be held to ransom by the players. It’s part of modern football. 

“These decisions by Chelsea players also happened prior to the Russian crisis, so it’s nothing to do with that – this is just football. 

“You’d want to sell a player before the end of the contract but if they don’t want to go, then they don’t want to go. It’s not a reflection of the club’s ambition when a player runs their contract down. It’s just business.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Manchester United need Declan Rice this summer

“Declan Rice has to decide for himself where he wants to go. West Ham are an ambitious club in the top six and pushing for fourth spot, but he must make the decision if he wants to go to a ‘bigger club’. 

“It’s not the right time at all for him to move on this summer, because West Ham can fulfil his ambitions.

“Manchester United would suit Declan Rice, because they need his kind of character who will give 100%, has the determination, discipline and desire to run through brick walls. When you’re a top player, any of the top clubs will want you.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Pochettino isn’t coming back to Spurs 

“The talk about Mauricio Pochettino and Antonio Conte swapping managerial positions at Tottenham Hotspur and Paris Saint-Germain is all paper talk. 

“Pochettino would be a good fit back at Tottenham because he’s been there before, but he isn’t coming back to the club, and neither is Conte leaving for PSG. 

“This is pure speculation. Pochettino would be a great manager for Spurs and Conte would be excellent for PSG. Will it happen? I don’t believe it, but who knows in football.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Raheem Sterling deserves all the credit he gets

“Raheem Sterling deserves more credit despite already getting plenty of it. 

“When it comes to Sterling, we always hear from his detractors because bad news sells, but he gets plenty of credit from the people who matter.

“His club and Manchester City fans love him, so regardless of what outsiders say, he deserves all the credit that he gets – and more. 

“The fact that he’s seven goals away from Wayne Rooney’s Champions League record goal tally for an Englishman, shows the kind of career he’s had – and he’s still only 27. The people who know him best, are the right people and are crediting him.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Frenkie De Jong would be excellent for United and Ten Hag

“If Erik Ten Hag wants Frenkie De Jong at Manchester United, then it would make sense to reunite him with his former player. 

“Whoever Erik Ten Hag wants you must give him them. He knows De Jong, likes him and he’s a very good player. 

“When the manager comes to United, he needs to be able to do whatever he wants, and the club cannot dictate to him. If Ten Hag wants him and he’s available, within their budget, then it would be excellent for Man United.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Manchester United must overhaul their entire squad

“Erik Ten Hag cannot get rid of players at Manchester United if they don’t want to leave the club, and their fans must understand that. 

“Media will talk about them having to get rid of this player, or that player but if they are on three or four-year deals then you can’t just get rid of them. Of course, they’d like to get rid of them, but unless another club offers the same salary or more, then they won’t leave. Players have all the power.

“We know they want to get rid of their players, and for United to get where they want to be quickly, that is something that must be done. 

“If the manager believes it’s the right time [to move on from this group of players], then it is.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Gabriel Jesus would be a fantastic signing for Arsenal

“Gabriel Jesus fits the bill of an Arsenal player. He matches the profile not just for Arsenal, but for any football club. Jesus works hard, has a great attitude, he can score goals, plays across a range of forward positions. 

“Whether he leaves Manchester City because he wants more playing time, or not, if he goes to Arsenal, that would be a fantastic signing.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Arsenal and Spurs will go down to the wire for fourth place

“The question of who finishes fourth this season in the Premier League will continue to change. Arsenal beat Manchester United and Chelsea, but before that had lost a couple of games. 

“Nobody is showing any consistency right now or taking the bull by the horns, to say it will be us [that finishes fourth]. 

“Originally, I felt it would be Tottenham Hotspur, but over the last couple of games they haven’t done very well, and Arsenal have now won their last two games and are looking good again. 

“The prediction will change week to week and neither team will put together a good enough run to definitively say, but it’ll be one of those two sides.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Roy Keane cannot adopt his Sky Sports persona as Hibs gaffer

“The way Roy Keane behaves on Sky Sports will not be a part of his management style.

“His management style will have to be different because modern players don’t respond to that [outward criticism and irritation] anymore, no matter who or where they are. 

“Roy won’t go into Hibernian and manage in the way he’s been overcritical of players during his Sky Sports tenure, shouting and screaming about players and the demands he’s saying that he’d put on them.

“People need to separate Roy Keane from Sky Sports and Roy Keane the manager [he’d be different].”


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