With the Champions League now concluded and transfer rumours a plenty, we’ve spoken to BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former England and Liverpool midfielder shared his thoughts on Paul Pogba and how he needs to show more commitment to Manchester United, as well as discussing Neymar and how in his opinion he has been better than Messi and Ronaldo this year.
John Barnes Exclusive: Neymar has outperformed Messi and Ronaldo this season
“Over the last 10 years, Neymar has been the third best player in the world after Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. However, he (Neymar) Kevin De Bruyne and Virgil van Dijk, have all played better than both of them this season. I’m not saying that Neymar has been better than Ronaldo and Messi over the last 10 years. I got stick on Twitter for saying a similar thing about Alphonso Davies, I said he’s the world’s best left back, with Andrew Robertson in second. I’m talking about this season, not over a longer period.
“Neymar may not have won the Champions League, but he’s one of the best players in the world and this season he’s outperformed both Messi and Ronaldo. Nevertheless, he’d need to continue this form for another 9 years to be considered in the same category as them.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Neymar’s been the best player in the world without winning the Champions League
“There’s nothing next for him, he’s been the best player in the world without winning the Champions League. Just think – Pele never won a European Cup and George Best never went to a European Championship. This whole idea that you must win a particular trophy to be considered the best player in the world is rubbish. George Weah never went to a World Cup, yet he won European player of the year and World Player of the year.
If you’re the best player in the world but happen to stay at a club that prevents you from entering a particular championship, you’re still the best player in the world. It would be good for Neymar if he can win the Champions League, but it won’t take away from anything he’s already achieved if he doesn’t.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Thiago Silva’s experience will complement Frank Lampard’s youthful team
“Frank Lampard’s Chelsea have signed Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, who are all young. To bring a Thiago Silva’s experience to the squad after signings like those would be a good move. Just because he wants to give younger players a chance, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want any experience in his team. Whether Silva is the right player to come into the Premier League at 35 years old in what will be a difficult defensive role, remains to be seen.
“I don’t think signing Thiago Silva on a free transfer means that Lampard’s going against his principles on giving young players a chance. You can’t exclusively have young players in a team – Chelsea had problems last season because they were so inexperienced. Bringing some experience in, along with the youth, is a good move.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Success for Liverpool next season does not depend on trophies
“Let’s say they (Liverpool) get to the Champions League final next season, after beating Real Madrid, Barcelona and all the other big clubs. Let’s say Liverpool end up losing to Manchester City in the final, while sat on 120 points. In that situation, although they won’t have won anything, they would have had a more successful season than this year.
They didn’t win the Premier League two seasons ago, but I think it was a better season for them in the league than it was this year. What they’ve got to do is show consistency and win football matches. If you win 99% of your games, but don’t quite manage to bring home the silverware, it’s still a successful season. We like to win trophies, but a successful season doesn’t necessarily equal silverware. Success means to perform well and consistently, week in week out. What would count as a failure, is if they were to lose several league games and get knocked out of the cups in the early rounds.”
John Barnes Exclusive: It’s not enough for Paul Pogba to say he’s committed to Manchester United – he needs to show it
“It’s going to come down to Manchester United because, Paul Pogba’s a Manchester United player. Pogba doesn’t hold all the cards. He seems happy to stay, and Manchester United seem happy that he’s staying. Whether Pogba feels that way because he thinks the club’s started going in the right direction – I don’t know. I believe a player should want to stay at a club no matter what, because even if a club isn’t going in the right direction, the player can help it do so. Players that don’t think like that should be gotten rid of.
“If Pogba’s said he’s 100% committed to Manchester United then that’s great news for them, because he’s a great player. However, he must show his commitment, which he didn’t show last year. He needs to play with the same spirit and attitude that we saw towards the end of this season and in his partnership with Bruno Fernandes.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Players like Paul Pogba should never act like they’re bigger than their clubs
“Pogba likes being in the media spotlight and likes to be the big player. He wouldn’t want to play second fiddle to Fernandes in terms of his performance or his media attention, so I don’t think this influenced his decision to stay. It’s possible he’s happier now because he thinks Manchester United are going to be a better team next year. I’m not a fan of players thinking that way. If a team isn’t performing well, the players should want to stay and improve their club’s situation.
“If Pogba’s decided that Manchester United is where he wants to be now, that’s fine, but I don’t think the fact Fernandes has taken the media spotlight off of him had any bearing on Pogba’s decision. The problem with Pogba is that he could change his mind week to week. He just needs to commit fully, or not at all. Too often in the Premier League teams we see players thinking they’re bigger than their clubs and wanting to leave when their clubs start playing badly. That is not what players and clubs should be like.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Jeff Hendrick is a great signing for Newcastle, fans should be delighted
“Coming from Burnley and Sean Dyche means that Jeff Hendrick will bring steel and determination to Newcastle. The fans will love him. He won’t be the main player, but he’s a good signing for the dressing room and to show what a professional should be like.
“The fans should get behind the team and not get caught up in the club’s politics. Considering all the uncertainty over Newcastle’s takeover, they didn’t have a bad season. If the players can concentrate on playing rather than worrying about the club’s ownership, and focus on providing some stability on the pitch, that would be good. I think Jeff Hendrick is a good signing for them, I’m not saying he’s going to play every week, but in terms of creating some togetherness and determination within club, he’s a good signing.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Celtic and their fans care more about winning 10 in a row, than having a good European cup run
“Celtic haven’t properly competed in European competitions for a number of years and it is going to be hard for them to do so. In some years, Celtic have managed to get into the group stages and if they can get through the knockout rounds like they have done only a couple of times in the last 10-15 years, that is all they can hope for.
“With the demise of Rangers, it has been easy for them domestically, which meant that there has not been any pressure on them to do well in Europe as they are winning the league, therefore the fans are happy. For Celtic this season, the most important thing is for them to get to 10 league titles in a row which is something that has never been done before. With Rangers getting closer to Celtic, and the fact they are getting closer each season, Neil Lennon will much prefer to try to cement the 10 titles in a row, rather than having a good European run.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Tom Rogic has clearly made the decision to go to Qatar for financial reasons
“Tom Rogic moving to Qatar is a safe move, but players would usually make those types of moves at the end of their career. He might feel that coming to a top Premier League team isn’t an option, and that Celtic will be as good as it gets for him. If he’s not happy with the money at Celtic and wants to go on and earn more elsewhere, he could come to a Championship or mid-table Premier League club – but going to Qatar is the financial decision he’s decided to make. Everyone’s different. People may say it’s a strange move to go to Qatar at 27, and it’s not something I’d do, but people must do what’s right for them.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Morelos has been well handled by Gerrard, the player is a loose cannon
“It could be the beginning of the end for Alfredo Morelos’ Rangers career, but if no one comes and signs him then what do you do? Steven Gerrard made the decision to leave Morelos out the squad because he didn’t have the right attitude at training and I’m sure that was the right decision. However, Gerrard’s not stupid enough to say that he will never play for Rangers again, because they might need him.
“Gerrard has played the situation well, now he has to decide what to do with Morelos and show to the players that he is in charge. He (Gerrard), has handled Morelos very well in the last couple of years, the player is a loose cannon. It’s easy to either lose the player, or then lose the fans as he’s a fan favourite. Regardless of what happens to Morelos, whether he stays, goes, or doesn’t play, Rangers need to be in the top two, and the fans will be aware of this.”
In the Premier League, you need your top players to play and you can’t leave them out like Steven Gerrard has done with Morelos. I’m sure Gerrard wants to get things sorted, and either secure the money to spend on a player who’s going to be committed. The Alfredo Morelos saga could change from week to week, but what the player decides, won’t negatively affect Rangers’ performance on the field.”
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