With the Champions League and Europa League restarting this week, and the transfer window well underway, we’ve spoken to BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former England and Liverpool midfielder shared his thoughts on Willian’s pending switch from Chelsea to Arsenal, an assessment of Frank Lampard’s first season as a Premier League manager, and advice for Jadon Sancho ahead of the 2020/21 season.
John Barnes Exclusive: Tsimikas signing is good depth for the Liverpool squad
“It is a good thing to see that Liverpool are signing players, after completing the Kostas Tsimikas deal from Olympiacos. I wasn’t worried about signing someone as cover for Andy Robertson though, because we have James Milner, Niko Williams and even Trent Alexander-Arnold who can play there, but it is good to add depth to the squad. I don’t see Liverpool making any £70-80 million signings, but it is always good to get more numbers into the squad, which is what Liverpool have done with this signing.”
John Barnes Exclusive: I’m surprised Chelsea couldn’t keep Willian but it’s a good move for Arsenal
“I really like Willian as a player, and I am quite surprised at what happened at Chelsea because I thought he was one of their best players this year, but he is 32, and Arsenal who are a team that need good players, clearly feel that he is worth bringing him in for an extra year just so they can secure the transfer.
“It’s a very good signing for Arsenal. I don’t necessarily feel it is a bad thing for Chelsea because they have brought in Timo Werner, other players, and are looking like they are going to make more signings, but for Arsenal, whether it is short term or long term, they had to give him the three-year contract offer, otherwise he wouldn’t be interested in joining, so well done to both Chelsea and Arsenal on this.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Despite their good signings, Chelsea will not be ready to challenge for the title next season
“I definitely feel like Chelsea can challenge for the top four again next season, but I don’t necessarily think they can challenge Manchester City and Liverpool just yet. However, they will become more competitive get closer to the top two teams in the Premier League with the signings they have made. Signing Ziyech, Werner and potentially more is clearly a strong indication that Chelsea are there to compete next season. I am sure they will be in the top four again, but I don’t think they will be ready to make a move for first or second place in the league just yet.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Frank Lampard didn’t deserve his manager of the season nomination
“Frank Lampard has done a decent job this season, a lot of pressure was on him, especially with the transfer ban, so I think he has done well. I don’t necessarily think he should be up their manager of the season. There’s only one manager of the season, and that is Jurgen Klopp! But that doesn’t mean I don’t think he has a done a good job over the past season. The way Lampard has conducted himself has been great, given a lot of the issues he had to deal with at the start of the season including the transfer ban.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Pierre-Emile Højberg is José Mourinho-type of player and great value at £15m
“Pierre-Emile Højberg is a José Mourinho-type player, hard-working, good on the ball and very solid defensively, definitely a positive signing for Tottenham. He’s not the most exciting of signings from a fan’s perspective – they’ll be looking for a marquee player who is flamboyant and plays with flair. But Mourinho likes him, and what the manager from a player when signing is the most important thing. I think it’s a very good signing for Tottenham and at £15 million it’s great value.”
John Barnes Exclusive: The Europa League may be lower priority for Manchester United, but they could do with the trophy
“It is always nice to win a trophy. Manchester United haven’t won a trophy this season, and although the Champions League, FA Cup and Premier League are probably higher on their priority list than the Europa League – it’s a trophy. Any competition you’re in, you should want to win. Although they can relax and probably play with less pressure because they’ve already qualified for the Champions League, they should be aiming to win the Europa League and give the fans something to shout about. If you’re in it, you might as well win it.”
Barnes Exclusive: Another year in Germany will do Jadon Sancho good, and confirm whether he is worth the €120m
“Jadon Sancho has to play for the team whose paying him. If Manchester United wanted him then they should have paid the money; if they don’t pay the money, they can’t get him. So, neither Manchester United nor Jadon Sancho can complain as Manchester United didn’t pay the fee Borussia Dortmund asked for.
“I don’t think one more years’ experience in Germany will hurt him at all, it’ll give him a chance to show that he can perform consistently. If he has another good season then Manchester United will probably pay the money for him next year, as he’s still young enough. If he doesn’t have another good season, would he have had been good enough for Manchester United anyway? So, having another year to play and grow in Germany, with less pressure, is not a bad thing. Being upset that he didn’t go to Manchester United and wallowing in a bad attitude would not be the right thing for him to do now. He should knuckle down and prove to the world that he is worth the €120 million.”
John Barnes Excusive: Nathan Ake is a good signing for Manchester City, but Koulibaly would take them up another level
“Nathan Ake is already a top player, he’s in the Premier League and has played for Holland. He’s 26 now so it’s a good time for him to show he can play at Manchester City’s level – and I think he can. He’s a very good signing for City. The fee was a lot of money, but we’ve seen clubs pay twice as much as that for players.
He could be a more regular partner for Laporte, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Manchester City signed someone else for that role. There’s been mention of Kalidou Koulibaly coming in, who knows? Defensively Manchester City struggled last season, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they signed another centre back and Koulibaly would fit the bill perfectly.
He (Koulibaly) has got to get used to his new surroundings and the Premier League. However, he is experienced, strong and a wonderful defender. I wouldn’t say he has to be like Kompany and be a vociferous leader, but as a very strong defender, he will help Manchester City immensely and take them up another level.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Rangers have started well, but it’s early days. Hibbs aren’t going to win the league, are they?!
“We can’t get carried away after only a few games. All they have to do is play the games that are in front of them, and they’ve started well. They haven’t conceded yet and they’ve won just two SPL games. Celtic will still be favourites to win the league but it’s a good start for Rangers. Hibbs have won all their games; do you think they’re going to win the league?!”
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