‘A Sit Down with John Barnes’ – 12th May 2022

As tension grows in the Premier League title race, we caught up with Liverpool legend and BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former midfielder discussed the implications of Salah failing to re-sign for Liverpool, Arsenal’s need for a striker not called Eddie Nketiah and the negative impact Erling Haaland could have on Manchester City. 


John Barnes Exclusive: Sadio Mané won’t be leaving Liverpool this summer

“Sadio Mané isn’t growing frustrated that Liverpool are focusing on Mo Salah’s contract. It’s a lot of speculation from people saying ‘I heard that he’s upset because of X, Y or Z, but that’s not true. 

“Mané is happy at Liverpool and Salah’s contract negotiations don’t take precedence; it may with the press because it’s bigger news, but Liverpool know what they’re doing. Sadio Mané is perfectly happy. That’s not to say that a move may not happen, but I won’t speculate.

“I know Liverpool more than what the press think they know. Mané is happy, things are going well. No one at Liverpool has said they’re interested in Serge Gnabry, so it’s unlikely he’ll be going in the other direction.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool will simply move on if Salah refuses to sign

“Jurgen Klopp’s new contract and Mo Salah’s potential contract renewal aren’t mutually exclusive. Liverpool will want both Klopp and Salah to stay and it’s not a decision of one over the other. 

“Klopp has signed for four more years but it doesn’t mean anything if they finish mid-table next year, he probably won’t be there. Managers’ situations are different to players’ situations. Hopefully Salah or Liverpool will compromise and find an agreement, and if they don’t, we’ll move on, and Liverpool will still be there.

“They’ll have been talking to Salah about a new contract from the start of the season, Klopp committing his future will have nothing to do with it. These talks will continue for a long period of time. It’s easier to tie managers down as they’re not being touted to go to other clubs, unlike players. Salah will have more options than Klopp if he decides he wants to go somewhere else.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Arsenal need a striker like Lautaro Martinez not Eddie Nketiah

“Arsenal might give Eddie Nketiah a contract. Arsenal correctly feel they need a centre forward who will be there week in, week out. They don’t believe he’s the long term forward needed to be in the top two or three. 

“He’s part of the squad and he’s doing well at this moment in time, but it won’t make Arsenal suddenly feel they no longer need a striker. They may negotiate with Nketiah but regardless of what happens there, they’ll still need a striker.

“If they wanted him to stay, they would have offered him a contract. To be in the top two or three, they’ll need to go and get someone like Lautaro Martinez or a centre forward who will be their no.1 striker for years to come.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Manchester United’s Paul Pogba will be remembered as an enigma

“Paul Pogba will be remembered at Manchester United as an enigma. 

“He’s got great potential and is a fantastic footballer, but it just never worked for him at United. That isn’t to say he’s not an excellent player, he’s a FIFA World Cup winner and plays well for France.

“Unfortunately, he’s at Manchester United at a time when they aren’t as dominant as they once were. Of course, Paul will be reflective of that in terms of being inconsistent, yet brilliant at times. 

“He now has to go and find somewhere that he plays his best football, that suits him; as Juventus did. Whether it is back in Italy, or not, it hasn’t worked out with United, which isn’t to say he’s not a great player.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Manchester United’s current squad are fit to wear the shirt

“Despite fan chants at the end of the Brighton fixture, Manchester United’s players are absolutely fit to wear the shirt, because they are playing for United. Players don’t sign for United if they are terrible.

“Rather than fire managers, the players must be held to account. If you look at what United have done since the David Moyes and Louis van Gaal eras, when the players haven’t performed, they’ve not been held to account and they’ve sacked the manager instead. 

“It must come to a stage, where they stop firing a manager and start to put pressure on the players, they should have done so before and demanded effort, commitment and determination from the players.

The club and fans must get behind Erik Ten Hag and back him. Every single one of them, they must let him sign and play whoever – it’s the only way forward for the club.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Erling Haaland could negatively impact Manchester City 

“Erling Haaland is a fantastic football player. 

“What could happen is that, City could change the way they play [to include him]. If you look at them, they don’t necessarily need a centre forward to score 40+ goals. They play in a way that creates [goals and opportunities] for everybody.

“Changing the way they play just for Haaland to score all the goals might not work. That isn’t to say he isn’t an incredible player, but they have to find the football that suits him, and he must fit the system.

“Manchester City play a free-flowing one touch or two touch game where people move around, whereas he’s an out and out centre forward. It’s not a given that him going to Manchester City will help them. It could detract from the free-flowing football, if they just look to get the ball to him. Sometimes they play without a centre forward and are still the best team in the country.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Chelsea will secure Champions League football next season

“Chelsea could absolutely slip out of the top four, as Manchester City could lose the next three games and fail to win the Premier League title. Anything could happen. 

“I don’t expect Chelsea to slip out of the top four though, and Arsenal still have to play Tottenham which works against one of those two sides [who are threatening Chelsea in the league]. 

“There’s a possibility they might finish fourth, but they won’t finish fifth. Thomas Tuchel has them playing with intensity and determination and it’s expected they will finish in that top four.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Celtic and Rangers have both had brilliant seasons; for different reasons

 “Both Celtic and Rangers have had brilliant seasons. 

“After Steven Gerrard left, Celtic were always going to come back into the fray. Even if Steven was still there, Celtic were going to improve under Ange Postecoglou, so it would always have been difficult for Rangers to win the Scottish Premier League. 

“Celtic will have deservedly won the league. In terms of Rangers now being in the Europa League final, it’s a fantastic achievement, especially as a Scottish team hasn’t reached a European final in many years.

“If Celtic win the league and Rangers win a European title, it will have been an amazing season for both clubs.”


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