After losing 5-2 in the first leg, Liverpool unsurprisingly were knocked out of the Champions League last night, conceding another goal to Real Madrid.
While this has been a transitional season for the English team, fans have been calling for the owners, Fenway Sports Group, to invest heavily in multiple areas for next season especially midfield and defence.
We talked to Reds’ legend John Barnes about Liverpool’s transfer policy and the former England star had some interesting takes.
I don’t think Liverpool need Josko Gvardiol but he’d be a good addition
RB Leipzig centre-back Josko Gvardiol, who was a key player for Croatia in the World Cup, has long been linked to Liverpool, as well as Chelsea and Real Madrid.
With Virgil van Dijk getting older, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez’s drop in form, one would imagine Gvardiol to be a prime target for the Reds.
Barnes, however, believes that this transfer is not exactly a need for the Reds and he still believes in the quality of Liverpool’s incumbent defenders.
“He was very good at the World Cup but I don’t necessarily think that we need him right now. We have Joe Gomez, Ibrahim Konaté, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and they are very good players.
“So, it’s not at the centre back position that we need new players.”
Barnes does add that Gvardiol would be a welcome addition to Liverpool but it is important to keep in mind that individual quality is secondary. Transfers that make the team more balanced should be prioritised.
“But he would be a very good addition. He has a lot of qualities and he is strong. He is a fantastic player who is very agile and mobile. I think he would be able to do a good job for Liverpool.”
“But again, we can’t rely on individual quality. Even if we bring new players in, the team has to make them look good and not the other way around.”
Getting rid of players like Fabinho is a ridiculous talking point
As per Barnes and a lot of fans, midfield is the area that needs to be looked at but the Liverpool icon doesn’t think that getting rid of players is the right way to go about it.
With players having contracts, Barnes believes that they wouldn’t want to leave and cites the example of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita – two players Liverpool have struggled in offloading.
“First of all, you can’t look to get rid of anyone because they’ve got contracts and they’re not gonna go.”
“If you look at Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain for two years, they couldn’t go. The whole idea of getting rid of players is ridiculous. Because you can’t get rid of them as they have contracts.”
Barnes then goes on to say that Fabinho can still be an important player for Liverpool and it depends on who is brought into the midfield. He thinks Fabinho alongside Jude Bellingham or Declan Rice can work very well for Jurgen Klopp.
“As to bringing in more midfielders, yes, you look at Jude Bellingham, at Declan Rice and we’ve always wanted to do that.”
“Of course, midfield is where we need to strengthen but I don’t think you need to get rid of players.”
“Absolutely a Rice-Fabinho pivot will provide stability to the team.”
“And it doesn’t mean we need midfielders of that ilk. If you think about the type of midfielders you want, it’s not necessarily a Fabinho pivot with Rice. It’s about getting him, or Jude Bellingham or a similar hard-working strong midfielder and then see what can be done from there.”
No need to replace Roberto Firmino
With Roberto Firmino’s departure from Liverpool confirmed at the end of this season, there’s also talk about who steps in for the Brazilian.
For Barnes, that is not an issue as there’s enough quality players in attacking positions for the Reds. He reiterates that Liverpool’s primary focus should be on strengthening the midfield.
“We have so many players with massive quality upfront so it doesn’t make any sense to replace him, really.”
“The priority should be to strengthen the midfield. As I’ve said many times, the midfield is the problem.”
“We should really focus on signing midfield players instead of attacking players.”