Ahead of a weekend which sees Liverpool and Everton face off in a Merseyside Derby, we spoke with BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former Liverpool midfielder shared his thoughts on his desire to see Jordan Henderson back in midfield, warning David Alaba not to come to England and Danny Ings being the wrong signing for Manchester City.
John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool wouldn’t want to lose any of their players, but Salah isn’t the player they can’t afford to lose
“Liverpool wouldn’t want to lose any of their players in the transfer window, they are all important. Mohamed Salah has been excellent this season, but Sadio Mane has been fantastic also. He (Salah) has been scoring plenty of goals, but Mane has been equally as good in terms of his hard work, both defensively and in creating chances going forward. There isn’t a single player, Liverpool can afford to lose.
Liverpool have lost two centre backs this season, with Jordan Henderson and Fabinho having to play there to compensate for that. There’s not any player that, if lost, would majorly affect the way Liverpool play. They don’t want to lose any of their best players, but I wouldn’t say that Mohamed Salah is the one player they can’t afford to lose.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Regardless of where Liverpool finishes this season, Mohamed Salah will want to stay at Liverpool
“No matter where a team finishes in the league, it will never stop a player’s head from turning against them. In the last year, despite Liverpool being Premier League champions, there has been talk of Mohamed Salah leaving the club.
I believe the players currently at Liverpool are players that want to be playing for Liverpool, but if they don’t, winning the league or finishing in the top four, it won’t make them stay – that’s just the nature of modern football.
There’s talk of Kylian Mbappe leaving PSG, players leaving Real Madrid and players leaving other top teams; Kevin de Bruyne hasn’t signed his contract extension with Manchester City yet, despite the likelihood of him winning the Premier League with them. So, finishing in the top four won’t make Salah want to stay and if they don’t finish in the top four, it won’t make him want to leave
So, I don’t think finishing in the top four will make Liverpool players want to stay and I don’t think finishing below the top four will make Liverpool players want to leave.”
John Barnes Exclusive: I want to see Jordan Henderson back in the midfield
“It doesn’t inspire me to watch Jordan Henderson play centre back, we’ve lost several games since he’s been moved there. Liverpool shouldn’t want him in that position. If you ask Henderson to play anywhere then he’ll do it, to the best of his ability, but we want Henderson back in the midfield.
I’m not going to say it’s inspirational to see him playing centre back because I don’t want to see him playing centre back. If you look at where we are in the league, that has a lot to do with the fact that Henderson’s not playing in his right position and the fact that Liverpool don’t have centre backs.”
John Barnes Exclusive: If Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain wants to play regularly, he should look to move away from Liverpool
“Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hasn’t been a failure at Liverpool, he’s been part of a squad that’s won the Premier League and a Champions League. Yes, Liverpool paid £40m for him, but in today’s world, that isn’t a lot of money for a player.
He’s been integral to the squad. He may not be one of the first 11 all the time but in the last few years he hasn’t let the team down and I don’t see that as a failure at all. He’s been a great addition and helped Liverpool to the glory that they’ve achieved.
Whether he then moves on because he wants to play regular football rather than staying at a club in which he won’t always start, he’ll have to decide that. Maybe he feels that having won the Premier League and the Champions League he wants to play football more regularly. His injuries have been a problem for him, although that’s nothing to do with his quality as a footballer.
He’s different to Takumi Minamino, who’s has just arrived at Liverpool, as opposed to Oxlade-Chamberlain who’s been there for a few years. Those two players are in two different situations. I think Chamberlain may feel at this point in his career that he’s hungry to play football regularly, so might have to move on, but Minamino has only been at Liverpool for six months and so shouldn’t be making a decision like that as things don’t always work out straight away.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Bukayo Saka would be more consistent if Arsenal were more consistent
“Bukayo Saka hasn’t been consistent all season but he has been a very good young player. Arsenal started off particularly well but has dropped off in the last few games. He’s (Bukayo Saka) been a very good young player, but with inexperience comes inconsistency, although we’ve seen the potential he has.
Every time I’ve seen him, he’s played well, but I’m not going to get carried away, because he’s in a team that aren’t in the top five. He’s part of that team and although he’s been doing well, I don’t want to put pressure on him by saying how great he is, when he’s not in a team that’s doing great – and he’s part of that team’s [Arsenal’s] inconsistency.
He’s got great talent, great ability and a great attitude. He’s obviously one to watch for the future but I don’t want to put pressure on him and say that everyone can depend on him to take Arsenal into the top four. I’m looking forward to seeing him develop, but I’m not getting carried away at this moment.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Danny Ings would be the wrong signing for Manchester City
“Manchester City do need to bring in a striker in the summer transfer window, but Danny Ings isn’t the right player for that role as he’s not played the right kind of football to be the perfect fit for them, despite him being a great goal scorer. Manchester City play a very intricate game. Would he be part of a fluent Manchester City team instead of just being a goal scorer?
If he can’t fit into the unique way that City play, then it won’t work. I’m surprised the link between them (Manchester City), and Danny Ings is there, because I don’t see him as a Manchester City player. It takes more than just goals to fit into Manchester City, you have to be fit into a particular type of play and be a particular type of player.”
John Barnes Exclusive: David Alaba would struggle as a centre back in England, he’s not the solution for Manchester United
As a player, you must look into going to a football team that suits you, and most importantly the way you play. David Alaba is a player who has played a lot of his career at left back and at Bayern, he’s been playing centre back. Because of the way Bayern Munich plays, he doesn’t come under anywhere near enough pressure from centre forwards like defenders do in the Premier League. He’s not a great defender, he’s good going forward and good on the ball. David Alaba is quick and more of a full back than a centre back in my opinion. For me, I don’t think he will be suited to teams like Sheffield United and Burnley with direct styles of play, constant pressure and crosses coming in. It’s not right for him.
The same could be said for Lindelof and Eric Bailly at times, who I don’t think are good enough for Manchester United either. Manchester United concede a lot of goals, so they have a problem there. When a defence makes mistakes, they are scrutinised, and this team have been scrutinised. I’m not sure Alaba is the solution at Manchester United, or even English football in general.
They need a big strong centre back who is dominant as well as being quick and fast, and someone who will complement Harry Maguire. Every now and then people get on his back because he makes a mistake and costs a lot of money, but I think Maguire is a good solid player for Manchester United.
John Barnes Exclusive: N’Golo Kante still has so much to offer a team that needs him
N’Golo Kante is a hardworking midfield player, great on the ball, very good defensively, and also a World Cup winner.
If a team is looking for a defensive midfield player to play in front of the back four with bags of energy and the ability to cover ground quicky, he is a perfect acquisition. It’s good for teams to have different players in the middle of midfield also, I can’t believe he’s not able to get a game at Chelsea to be honest, although Kovacic has been fantastic for them.
If Kante is not getting the opportunities at Chelsea, he will know more than most that he needs to move to make sure he’s playing regular football. He’s too good not to be playing.
John Barnes Exclusive: Neil Lennon is handling Celtic in the right way, despite what people think
“At a club, if there is any unrest or upheaval as we’ve seen at Celtic this season, as a manager you do not want it to get out, as it can cause even more problems. If you look at social media and the reactionary world we are in, everybody is so involved with everything.
You don’t want to have messages out there that players are unhappy, and people fighting in training, standoffs with the board etc, it’s not good to bring all this to the surface. Neil Lennon is doing his best to protect the reputation of the club.
Unfortunately for him, what will then happen is because he’s not making an excuse, it’s then his fault as a manager, and people will go for him. Managers must be very careful that they protect themselves, but also the club and the players. If most managers were to come out and tell the truth about what goes on in clubs, it would be very unstable and not be good for success.
Neil Lennon has to protect himself or everybody’s going to be blaming him without knowing the story of what’s actually going on in training Monday to Friday, so it’s a bit of a tell-tale sign of the club’s current affairs that he’s saying ‘mitigating circumstances’ which he can’t discuss. It’s not always just down to the manager.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Celtic can better their squad mentality from this season
“If you don’t know what’s going on at Celtic how will the players learn from their mistakes. If players have been disrespectful to the manager, not showing up for training, we just don’t know.
Obviously, it’s been a tough season for them, maybe they need to make more effort in training and work harder as a team. The title race is pretty much over, they’re out of the Champions League, out of the Europa League, they need to learn to be stronger. It’s hard to say what they can learn from this season as we don’t know what the problems are and I don’t think the problems are the on-field issues, because they win most of their matches anyway. But, if you’re playing teams like Rangers and other top sides, if things aren’t right, you will lose matches. It’s not always to do with having great players, but with harmony togetherness and belief, the quality will come through.
It’s an easy thing to say but it’s hard to do if things aren’t going well.”
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