With Premier League football returning this weekend and a Merseyside Derby taking place, we caught up with Liverpool hero John Barnes who gave his views on Liverpool’s form, the Leroy Sane transfer rumours and the upcoming game against Everton.
Barnes was full of praise for Liverpool’s resurgence this season. For Sane, the former England international was lukewarm as he does not see him as a replacement for Salah.
Salah Is At Liverpool For The Next Two Years – Sane Won’t Be The Same Player
Barnes was ambivalent about the stories linking Liverpool to a move for Bayern Munich forward, Leroy Sane.
As per Barnes, Mohamed Salah is at Liverpool for the next two years and the team really doesn’t need to think about that position.
“We’ve got Mo Salah so until Mo Salah leaves and his contract isn’t up for another two years or so we don’t need to think about that.
“I expect Mo Salah to be here for the next two years. Sane may not be the player he is now for two years.”
The former Watford man adds that Sane joining Liverpool is pure speculation. It’s akin to Kylian Mbappe joining the club.
“Sane is a good player but Mbappe is a good player. Him joining Liverpool would be great too but it’s just pure speculation. Salah has two more years at Liverpool and long may that last.”
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Liverpool Have The Depth To Compete With Man City And Arsenal
The Reds are currently fourth in the Premier League, three points behind Tottenham and Arsenal and a point behind defending champions, Man City.
Jurgen Klopp’s men have been impressive so far and Barnes believes they have rectified their depth issues from last season and have the tools to compete with Man City and Arsenal.
“Absolutely. Liverpool can compete with Arsenal and Manchester City this season. Last season our problem was in the midfield and we’ve addressed most of those issues through Dominic Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister.
“We’ve still got Bajcetic to come back into the team in the number 6 role so I’m confident we’ll be challenging and playing much more consistently.
“Bacjectic is a number 6 and he came in, did well but then got injured. Fabinho has gone and we’ve had Mac Allister in the 6 role but long term that’s his position. Last year he showed he’s up to the task.”
Not just midfield but Barnes sees that Liverpool also have a wealth of attacking options at their disposal.
“Then you look at the striker we have in terms of Cody Gakpo who joined Salah, Jota, Nunez and Diaz.”
Dominik Szobozslai Can Play The Gerrard Role
Barnes was full of praise for summer signing Dominik Szobozslai and admits the Hungarian has exceeded what Barnes expected of him.
“Szoboszlai understands his role and from an individual perspective his technical and physical ability is much more than I expected.
“I didn’t know much about him when he came into the team but he’s good on the ball. He can dribble, he can pass, he can shoot. He’s got a great attitude, he can get up and down the pitch.”
The Liverpool icon likened Szobozslai’s style of play to that of another Liverpool legend, Steven Gerrard, and feels that the Hungarian can slot in a similar position if the Reds change their setup.
“I think if he played as a box to box, like a Steven Gerrard type of role, he is that type of player.
“Right now Liverpool play with a midfield three and he’s not required to play that way but he can do everything in midfield. I’ve been very impressed with him.”
‘Szobozslai Has Impressed Me The Most’
The Liverpool legend also admitted that the Hungarian midfielder surprised him the most so far in the Premier League.
“Dominik Szoboszlai has impressed me the most. Whatever other players are doing at Arsenal, be it Ødegaard or Saka, or at Man City, we expect it because I knew about them and the consistency they had.
“I didn’t realise how good Szobozslai is, from an individual perspective. I don’t necessarily like to assess the quality of individuals, looking at him and the quality he has and his willingness to do whatever it takes for the team and his willingness to understand what the team requires from him in any position – be it the No. 6 or No. 8.
“He for me has been the most impressive player in the Premier League. Mainly because I didn’t know how good he was. If I knew how good he was, maybe I wouldn’t be as impressed. Having not known that, I have to say the scouts at Liverpool have done an incredible job.”
‘Liverpool Have To Be Wary Of Everton’
On the Merseyside Derby, Barnes is of the opinion that Liverpool cannot take their neighbours lightly despite having the upper hand in recent years.
He doesn’t expect it to be a high quality game but can see Everton coming in with a lot of energy and passion.
“Liverpool have to be wary because it’s a Derby and individuals don’t win you derby games. I doubt it’ll be a good game from a spectacle perspective but you just have to get it done.
“Liverpool have had the upper hand over the last couple of years but anything can happen. We have to be wary of how much this will mean to Everton.”