After another drama-filled week of football which saw Liverpool score seven past Crystal Palace, and Celtic victorious against Hearts in the Scottish Cup final, we caught up with BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former Liverpool midfielder shared his thoughts on Mohamed Salah’s comments concerning his Liverpool future, Wijnaldum’s ongoing contract discussions and how Celtic’s cup victory could turn things around for them this season.
John Barnes Exclusive: Salah isn’t paving the way for a move elsewhere
“Mohamed Salah is not necessarily paving the way for a move somewhere else with these comments. We know he’s happy at Liverpool, he’s playing well, and we are the European and League champions, which is also something to consider. People are always going to speculate and say, ‘would he be open to a move?”. Players will say yes, that doesn’t mean he isn’t happy in Liverpool. A move away might be something he is considering for further on in his career, but I wouldn’t read too much in his comments at all.
“Players will never say no to anything, if he said ‘I don’t want to go and play for Juventus or Real Madrid’ the fans of those clubs then see that as a negative thing, it could come back to bite him negatively if he was to sign for one of these teams in the future. It’s all speculation that I wouldn’t like to read too much into.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Mbappé might choose Real Madrid over Liverpool if he was given the choice
“Who said that either Kylian Mbappé or Haaland would want to come to Liverpool? This is the thing, just because one player goes, it doesn’t mean that one of these other superstars, in this case, Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappé, are likely to sign as his replacement. These players will have to want to come to Liverpool to make it happen, and we haven’t seen anything concrete to say whether this is the case for these players. If Real Madrid also went in for Mbappé the same time that Liverpool did, who knows who he would choose? It’s the case if Salah goes, who and when they could get someone. But to speculate who Liverpool can get when someone might be leaving doesn’t make sense at all.
“Everyone wants to play for different clubs for their own reasons, players come, players go, but I don’t think a lot into it at all. It’s all media speculation. Why doesn’t Messi just come to Liverpool?”
John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool won’t be held to ransom over Wijnaldum contract talks
Georgino Wijnaldum is a great player, I’m not sure if it would be Liverpool’s best piece of business in the window, but you want a player who is happy to stay. It would be great if both the player and club could come to an agreement in this window for a new deal, but I don’t feel as though Liverpool will be held to ransom and give him a four-year deal on high wages. The good thing about Liverpool is all the players at the club want to play for the badge, they will all give one hundred per cent and try to help Liverpool to win the league, which is all that can be asked for by a squad of players. I hope he (Wijnaldum) stays.
John Barnes Exclusive: Firmino is as important to Liverpool as Mané or Salah
“For me, Roberto Firmino was always one of the most important players in the Liverpool team. When you look at the front three, he is equally as important as both Mo Salah and Sadio Mané in my opinion. I never thought his position in the front three was ever under threat, he is far more important than just a striker that scores goals.
“He creates chances for the team and is largely the reason why Salah and Mané score as many goals as they do. He works hard and Jurgen Klopp knows what an asset he is to the Liverpool team. It’s great to see him get on the scoresheet again, but I don’t feel his position would ever be under threat for a lack of goals as he brings so much more to his game. Having said that, I’m happy to see him (Firmino) scoring again.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Salah isn’t any more important than most of Liverpool’s top players
“Salah’s impact on the team has been immense, but so has Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, Virgil Van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold respectively. He’s (Mo Salah) scored so many goals but isn’t much more important than any of these players, and that is what makes this Liverpool side such a special team. Because you can see, when he doesn’t play, Liverpool still wins. His work rate and contribution to the team has been exceptional, there’s no doubt about that. But ultimately, he’s really part of a special team. Players come and go in football.”
John Barnes Exclusive: The gesture showed togetherness between the team and fans
“The result itself was not a significant moment, but the togetherness they showed coming back from a losing position was admirable. The strength of a team is that when things are not going well, it is important to get a result, even if it is a draw at home to West Brom. The fact that the fans decided not to boo them when they were losing or weren’t playing well and decided to stick with them was of big credit to the Liverpool faithful.
“It’s like when in the same season we were two-nil down against Dortmund and then going on to win the game three-two. When things are going well, maybe you don’t need the fans to be behind you one hundred per cent, because you’re playing well. The key area of a good team Is that with everybody playing well, people stick together. That is what Jurgen Klopp wanted to say upon that with his gesture, we weren’t playing well, it is only West Brom but thank you for being with us.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Phillipe Coutinho is still one of the best in the world at what he does
“It depends on the way you play. If you’re looking for a bit of creativity and individual magic, then he [Philippe Coutinho] would be fantastic. But, if you look at Liverpool, we don’t want to have one individual taking the profile away from the team. So, I don’t think they’d sign a player like that. Not just him, but a player like that – so Messi, for example.
“For Liverpool, it’s all about the team. The problem we’ve seen in the past is when you focus on someone like that, and then when one of the superstars is injured or isn’t playing well, the team plays in the same way.
“So, it depends on the profile of the team because he is still one of the best in the world. If they want to play in a creative way and have a superstar who is more important than the rest of the players, then I think [another Premier League side] would take a chance on him.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Arsenal don’t need to strengthen in January, it’s no use them wasting more money
“Arsenal aren’t in the Champions League, which means they’re not going to be able to attract the best players. So, are they going to get players who are better than they already have? Great players aren’t going to go to Arsenal, so why just spend money for the sake of it?
“The squad they actually have is good enough to be winning matches and doing better than they are, so going into the transfer market is not necessarily the solution. They just need a little bit of luck and start playing with a bit of confidence and they can start turning things around.
“No, [I don’t see Arsenal going down]. Not at all.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Celtic can turn things around this season
“I was very happy to see Neil Lennon and Celtic win the Scottish Cup because I don’t like to see managers being unfairly criticised and – after everything he’s done at Celtic – be so harshly treated.
“Celtic can turn things around by sticking together – they’re a good side. They’re not playing well now, but they could go on a run and not lose between now and the end of the season if fans continue to support and believe and get behind the manager.
“Hopefully, there’ll now be some positivity around Celtic to help the team.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Scott Brown is so important to Celtic
“You can’t look at one game and say, ‘He’s back to his best’. He performed well, he’s a leader and he’s a talisman for the fans as well. So, he could be instrumental in galvanizing the fans to get behind the team.
“But it was one game and it’s a cup final. And make no mistake, Hearts aren’t a top team, and they drew 3-3. But the fact they won the trophy should stand them in good stead. They’ve still got a lot of work to do but that was a good start for them.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Edouard’s Panenka penalty was not disrespectful
“If you’re taking a penalty and you think that’s the best way because he’s going to dive, that’s not disrespectful. It’s about scoring goals and you can score that way. If you blast it, you may do no better.
“It matters about whether he scores or misses – not the type of penalty he takes. Obviously, if you miss, it looks bad, but apart from that, I don’t think it’s disrespectful.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Rangers didn’t lose form for going to Dubai, they were inconsistent
“They didn’t lose form because they went on a training trip, they lost form because they lost form. The fact that it happened last year doesn’t mean that it won’t this season just because they’re not going.
“They’ve decided for whatever reason that they’re not going to do it, but when you talk about what they did last year, I don’t think it’s got anything to do with the decision.
“If they end up winning matches, it’ll be seen as a good thing, but if they start to lose, they’ll say they should have gone to Dubai!”
John Barnes Exclusive: Rangers defeat to St Mirren was a blip
“You may lose one or two matches, but then you could go on a run and never lose again. They look strong enough and focussed enough. And they’re determined not to let Celtic win the 10 in a row. So, I think that [the defeat to St Mirren] was just a blip.”
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