The international break comes at a good time for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp. The Reds have had a rocky season to date. They have certainly not reached the heights that they have become accustomed to in recent years. We sat down with Liverpool icon John Barnes to discuss a range of topics surrounding Liverpool.
The Return of Luis Diaz
The highly anticipated return of winger Luis Diaz has been awaited since he sustained his first injury in October. It has been a challenging road to recovery for the dynamic forward who brought direct energy on and off the field, which Liverpool’s forwards had been missing.
As Diaz is now on the verge of a return, Klopp faces the dilemma of choosing between several attackers, including Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez, Cody Gakpo, Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota, and Diaz. Being a winger himself during his playing career, Barnes understands what it takes to be a Liverpool attacker. He believes that Salah and Nunez will be Klopp’s preferred forwards, and the remaining attackers will have to compete to secure a place in the starting lineup
“Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez would probably be the first two players on Jurgen Klopp´s team sheet. And then I would be happy with any player to play as the third attacking player.”
“I would be happy with Luis Diaz, Cody Gakpo and Roberto Firmino. The front trio is definitely not the issue for us at the moment.”
“Diaz is more of a left winger or a wide forward. Gakpo can play as a centre forward, a withdrawn forward and on the wing so they are completely different players. So, I really don’t want to compare them.”
“The midfield and the balance at the midfield is the problem, so that’s an area where we need to improve.”
Bajcetic is the future of Liverpool
The news of midfielder Stefan Bajcetic’s season-ending adductor injury could not have come at a worse time for the young player. Liverpool is currently in a battle to finish in fourth place as the season approaches its end, and Bajcetic would have played a crucial role in the club’s aspirations.
Since his debut against Bournemouth in August, the Spanish midfielder has established himself as an integral part of Liverpool’s midfield and Jurgen Klopp’s plans. Bajcetic was also set to receive his first call-up to the Spanish U21 squad for the upcoming international break.
Although Barnes is impressed with Bajcetic’s contributions to Liverpool’s season, he is cautious about overhyping the team’s reliance on such a young player. Along with Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho, Barnes sees Bajcetic as the future of Liverpool.
“Stefan Bajcetic is a young player and he is definitely one for the future. But he is not a main player and he wouldn’t be in the team 100% of the time anyway. But he will be that in the future and we need him for the next many years.”
“So, we can’t all of a sudden say that Liverpool can’t make it into the top four because he is injured. That would be wrong. It’s unfortunate for him that he’s injured and I hope he will recover soon.”
“Probably too much is expected too soon of Bajcetic, coming into a team that is really not playing so well.”
“Obviously he is the future but to put pressure on him to go into the team to take us to where we want to be is unfair. As it is on Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho. Cause you really want experienced players there and the younger ones can dip in and out and come in and play when the team’s doing well and build their confidence.”
Mason Mount would fit in at Liverpool
Contract negotiations between Chelsea and midfielder Mason Mount have hit a standstill, leaving his future at the club uncertain. Mount has been linked with a move away from Chelsea, with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp reportedly interested in the Cobham academy graduate. Barnes is also a fan of the England midfielder and believes that he would fit seamlessly into Liverpool’s style of play.
“I think Mason Mount would fit in with what we want. If you look at his strength as a midfield player – he attacks, he defends, he’s dynamic, he’s direct, he gets up and down. This is the profile of a Liverpool player, maybe not a Man City player. He could fit in with what we want.”
“I’d be surprised if that happens because Chelsea rate him highly. Contract negotiations are always difficult.”
“I would welcome that signing if he were to come to Liverpool.”