Ahead of the Champions League final on Saturday, we caught up with BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former Reds star discussed Liverpool’s successful season, why they would rather face Madrid than City, and Arsenal being years away from challenging for silverware.
John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool simply couldn’t have been any better this season – there is no room for improvement
“Liverpool don’t need to make any adjustments next season to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title.
“They lost one game, what tactical adjustments could they possibly make? They almost won four trophies this season, they need to keep the players that they currently have, and if they lose players then they might have to sign someone.
“They don’t need to do anything, they are playing consistently well, and it went down to the wire against City. Liverpool achieved over 90 points, losing two games all season. Manchester City were simply too strong.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool have had a more successful season than City
“Have Manchester City been more successful than Liverpool this season, if Liverpool win the Champions League? Winning the Carabao Cup, FA Cup and Champions League, with one point off winning the Premier League makes them more successful than Manchester City.
“Liverpool just need to keep on doing what they have been.
“If they lose players then they may have to think about signing someone. At the moment, they will be right up there next season. Perhaps in two weeks’ time if players have gone, then they might have to [make some signings].”
John Barnes Exclusive: Fábio Carvalho’s is a future Liverpool star, and he’s not ready for a big role yet
“Fábio Carvalho will come to Liverpool this summer and be a player for the future.
“He isn’t coming to be a part of the first eleven straight away. He’s a fantastic young player, and Liverpool have a front three that are getting on a bit. The club also now has Luis Díaz, Diogo Jota and Harvey Elliot.
“Carvalho isn’t slotting straight into the side but is a part of this squad for the future. He could be used and trusted every now and again and his signing shows Liverpool are preparing for the future, both medium and long term.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool are lucky to be facing Real Madrid and not Manchester City
“I’m glad Liverpool have to face Real Madrid in the Champions League final and not Manchester City. City would cause us far more problems in comparison to Madrid.
“The only trouble that Madrid could cause is Karim Benzema, not the entire forward line. Benzema scores the goals, Rodrygo obviously came on and scored a few, but it’s really Benzema that’s the threat.
“You look at what Real did against Manchester City, Chelsea, and others, but it’s always that they’ve played poorly – including their home games, and then in the last 15 minutes they’ve come back at the Santiago Bernabéu, when the crowd have got behind them.
“Everything Madrid have done in this season’s competition has been in the last 10 minutes, at home. They aren’t at home with their fans against Liverpool, so they can’t go two or three nil down against Liverpool and try to come back. They won’t have that luxury in Paris.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Karim Benzema is only a threat in the box
“Real Madrid could beat Liverpool, but Liverpool are the bookies favourites. If they are aware of what Benzema does inside the penalty area, then they will be okay.
“With Karim Benzema, he’s no Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. They have always been able to cause problems for opposing sides outside of the box. Benzema is an in-the-box type of forward, so that’s all Liverpool really must be aware of.
“When the ball is in the box, they’ll be aware, and they’ll have to be very concentrated when crosses are coming into the box and watch him.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Cristiano Ronaldo won’t find a better club than Manchester United
“Cristiano Ronaldo has to do whatever he feels is right for him this summer, whether it’s staying at Manchester United or leaving. It’s also going to be a question of what United want to do, will they even want to keep him?
“He’s not going to go to a side that’s better than Manchester United, even if they were in the Champions League.
“He may want to go to America, but that’s up to him. He’s been fantastic over the years, one of the best ever to play. It’s just a question of whether he thinks he has enough to offer.
“He won’t go to Real Madrid, Barcelona, or Manchester City.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Arsenal are several years away from really challenging for titles, and they need a striker
“Arsenal are a young and inexperienced side, but they are on an upward trajectory – even if they have fallen away in their last 10 Premier League games. They’ll have another year’s experience going into next year.
“The club must get a new centre forward after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left, with Alexandre Lacazette potentially going and Eddie Nketiah being a good young player but probably not the person to get them where they want to be.
“Arsenal won’t suddenly be challenging for a top three finish, but if they keep doing what they are doing, then in the next two or three years, we’ll see a much stronger Arsenal side.
“They’ll push for fourth next season, and they’ll improve. With youth comes inconsistency, but there’s no long-term concern for their future and hopefully their fans don’t suddenly assume they’ll challenge for a title.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Arteta earned himself a new contract, despite end of season collapse
“Arsenal have improved under Mikel Arteta, so they didn’t jump the gun in awarding him a new contract, despite failing to finish in the Champions League qualification places.
“Forget the league position – the club have improved. It’s incredibly difficult to get into the top four in England. You have the top three above [Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea], then you have Tottenham who have more experience.
“Mikel Arteta has proved he deserved and new contract and they want stability. Do they really want to bring a new manager and start again? A new manager won’t suddenly make Arsenal better. Arteta knows all the young players; they like him, and the fans do too. It was the right thing to give him a new deal.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Chelsea’s stat about never trailing at half time is irrelevant – they were poor defensively in too many second halves
“If Thomas Tuchel’s defensive tactics for Chelsea were that astute, then why did they keep losing in the second half of games, despite being the first Premier League side to never be behind at half-time during the season.
“The game is 90 minutes long, it doesn’t matter if the club were never behind at half-time, they are quite a way off Manchester City and Liverpool. Tuchel is a very good manager, but that’s not important.
“Chelsea has a new owner, so things are looking a lot brighter than they have recently. They are in a good place with a good manager and great players – so Chelsea will do okay.”
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