A Sit Down With John Barnes – 1st June 2022

As the European club season draws to a close, all eyes are on the transfer window. We caught up with Liverpool legend and BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The star midfielder gave us his thoughts on Sadio Mané’s future, why Gabriel Jesus should pick Arsenal over Spurs and Manchester United’s ridiculous failed experiment with Ralf Rangnick at the helm.

John Barnes Exclusive: Sadio Mané might pull a Kylian Mbappé and stay at Liverpool

“Reports state Sadio Mané is going to leave Liverpool, and it’ll clearly be the end of their famed front three. 

“How long Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah stay as well will depend on if they sign new contracts. Kylian Mbappé was also supposed to leave Paris Saint-Germain, but changed his mind at the last moment.  

“If Mané does leave, the club still have Luis Díaz and Diogo Jota to play alongside Firmino and Salah. If Salah doesn’t sign a new deal, then Liverpool will have to look for another player, but they’ll cross that bridge when they come to it.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool shouldn’t cave in Salah contract negotations, just because they’re losing Mané

“Sadio Mané leaving Liverpool will have nothing to do with Liverpool’s contract negotiations for Mohamed Salah. 

“Just because Mané might leave, it won’t push the club into giving Salah a four-year contract and whatever money he wants. They are individual deals and won’t bare any impact on one another.

“If Salah goes before Mané, that also won’t mean it’s imperative to change their wage structure to keep Mané, just because Salah walks. The club must do what’s right for themselves.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Sadio Mané won’t go down as a Liverpool legend

“When it comes to Sadio Mané being an all-time Liverpool great like Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish or Steven Gerrard, you have to remember that those players were all at the club for 10-15 years.

“It’s Sadio’s sixth year at Liverpool, and in terms of the success he’s had he’s been a fantastic servant to Liverpool Football Club, winning the Premier League and Champions League.

john barnes

“You have to look at Mané like Fernando Torres; where would Torres have been if he had stayed for 10 years? The same as Luis Suárez. You have to be at one club, for a particular length of time to be mentioned in the same light. 

“His impact at the club will leave him rated very highly though.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Gabriel Jesus should choose Arsenal over Spurs

“Gabriel Jesus could suit either Tottenham Hotspur or Arsenal. Both have good managers and are good clubs.

“From a club perspective, Arsenal are more in need of a centre forward than Spurs when you look at the fact that they still have Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. 

“But this is modern football; in the old days if a club wanted you, you’d move there, there wasn’t an auction like it is today with other clubs. A player went to the club that came in for them, without a deal being highjacked. 

“From Jesus’s point of view, he also has to ask himself with Kane and Son if he’d be playing regularly in the same position, which he won’t. Arsenal need Jesus more and he’ll be better suited there.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Arsenal provide more stability than Spurs, but both are attractive clubs

“For players choosing between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur this summer, both clubs are attractive, but it’ll depend on their on-field position. Arsenal are a more attractive proposition for centre forwards in terms of their prospects of playing in the first team. 

“A player must decide whether he feels that he can slot straight in as a mainstay of the first team. Both are attractive as each other, notwithstanding Spurs being in the Champions League – because that’s only for one season. That could change next year.

“Moving forward, with the young players Arsenal have, the future looks bright, but it’s the same for Spurs. Arsenal are more secure in that Mikel Arteta will be staying, whereas Antonio Conte could leave next year. Players might think if they go there and Conte left, where does that leave them?”

John Barnes Exclusive: Ralf Rangnick’s tenure was shoddy, ridiculous and unprofessional

“Ralf Rangnick was never going to work out at Manchester United. The whole appointment was ridiculous from the start. 

“Having a manager for the rest of the season, before moving into a consultancy role isn’t professional. It’s not the way to run a football club, having an ex-manager who would have been seen as a failure to then be above the new manager. 

“The best thing for all parties was for Rangnick to leave, let the new manager come in and for it all to be about Erik Ten Hag, and nobody else. 

“It was a ridiculous scenario to begin with, regardless of how it transpired. It looks shoddy but it’s the right decision.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Manchester United didn’t go backwards last season, and they’re only a couple of years away from being back to competing properly

“Manchester United aren’t further away from Champions League or any silverware now than they were under Ole Gunnar Solskjær. 

“Under Solskjær, they were consistently finishing fourth of fifth. I’m not certain they’ll do as well this year with the current squad and a new manager. They won’t challenge, but they’re in a better place now for next two or three years. 

“They need to get away from the Sir Alex Ferguson era and Solskjær was a part of that. Louis Van Gaal and José Mourinho were two fantastic managers, but they were still judged against Ferguson. 

“They went back to that under Solskjær and it didn’t work. They then didn’t have a full-time manager after him, so while it might take another two or three years to get back to the top, they’re at a better starting point than they were previously.” 

John Barnes Exclusive: Newcastle should only aim for a mid-table finish next season

“Newcastle should aim to come tenth next season. If they aim higher and don’t win matches, they’ll get very disappointed and slip back to where they were before. 

“They have to walk before they can run, and while they finished the season fantastically well, that doesn’t mean they’ll challenge for the top five or six. If they put too much pressure on the team, it might not work out for them.

“They have to take baby steps, knowing that the future looks good with the players looking to cement their place in the team rather than thinking about other players coming in. They’re sensible enough to know that, and Eddie Howe has done a great job so far.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Chelsea should buy Achraf Hakimi; if Tuchel wants him

“Thomas Tuchel could decide to play three at the back and Reece James would be the right side of a centre back three with a right wing back outside him. 

“Tuchel knows how he wants to set his team up and is a great manager. If he feels that Achraf Hakimi is what he needs to change the way his team plays, then that’s fine. 

“He’s going to implement a style to suit the team, the same way he always has done. Chelsea are going to have to trust him enough to know what he needs to make the team successful.”

John Barnes Exclusive: The Champions League final policing was a complete shambles

“The French authorities are saying one thing and Liverpool, along with their fans are saying something different. We don’t know if anyone is covering anything up.

“What we can say is that it was a complete shambles. There were a lot of local fans – neither Real Madrid nor Liverpool – trying to get into the game. Maybe the French police were getting a bit heavy handed and Liverpool fans got caught up in that. 

“The vast majority of Liverpool fans went there in good spirits, to enjoy the game despite the rumour about fake tickets going around. It’s easy for people to speculate, but it’s irresponsible to blame anybody without knowing the true facts.”


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