Glen Johnson: ‘Germany and Portugal are the favourites to win Euro 2024’

 | Tuesday 25th June 2024, 12:42pm

Tuesday 25th June 2024, 12:42pm

glen johnson footy

Despite lacklustre performances against Denmark and Serbia, former England full-back Glen Johnson is backing the Three Lions to grow into the tournament as the Euros progresses, but believes that Germany and Portugal are the favourites to win the competition. In an exclusive interview with Betfred, Johnson spoke to us about Anthony Gordon and Cole Palmer’s lack of gametime in Germany, Liverpool’s interest in Nico Williams and why he believes Chelsea should pursue a move for Lille’s Jonathan David.

Euro 2024 Betting Tips: 

  • Germany to win Euro 2024 @ 4/1
  • Portugal to win Euro 2024 @ 11/2

After the performances against Serbia and Denmark, are you feeling less optimistic about England winning Euro 2024 or do you believe they’ll gradually grow into the tournament? Who do you believe are the favourites to win the tournament?

“I do believe they’ll grow into the tournament. Let’s face it, nobody enjoyed their first two performances, but they’re still top of the group and they’re probably going to win the group and I’d rather they peaked later on than now. I’m remaining positive and even though the performances against Serbia and Denmark weren’t what we all wanted to see, if they get a win tonight then they’ve won the group, so I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom.

“I believe Portugal and Germany are the favourites to win the tournament, despite Spain starting well too.”

In your opinion, what changes would you make to the starting XI going into the Slovenia game?

“I would have Ollie Watkins playing up front alongside Harry Kane. Harry is capable of dropping into that number ten role and that would allow Ollie to stretch Slovenia’s defence. I’d make no changes to the back four and in midfield I’d have [Bukayo] Saka on the right, [Anthony] Gordon on the left and [Declan] Rice and [Jude] Bellingham in the middle, with Declan playing deeper.”

What’s your prediction for this evening’s game?

“I believe England will win 2-0. I’d be very surprised if they played negatively three games on the bounce but ultimately, the main objective is getting a win and topping the group. Of course we want to see them play proper football and give the fans something to cheer about, but the main objective is winning the group.”

Are there any players in the squad that you’re shocked haven’t had any gametime so far? Anthony Gordon and Cole Palmer being key examples. 

“Yes, both Gordon and Palmer. They both must be sitting there confused wondering why they’re not playing when England are playing this bad. If they’re not going to play when England are playing this bad, then when are they ever going to play? They could be thinking that they may as well be at home. It’s great for them to both be at the tournament but they’re not playing. I’m surprised that England have been negative and not played either of them. Gordon loves to drive at defenders and Cole has been a goal machine for Chelsea, so it’s a bit strange. If you’re not going to play them, then why have they been taken in the first place?”

What’s your opinion on Enzo Maresca becoming the new manager of Chelsea?

“I don’t know a great deal about him. I don’t know why they ever appointed Mauricio Pochettino if they were going to sack him after one season, but there were signs that Chelsea were improving last season, albeit slowly, but they were improving. 

“They signed a lot of new players last season who’ll be better adapted to the Premier League this season and fingers crossed Enzo can get them all firing and they can start climbing the league. For how they started last season, they’re probably over the moon about where they finished and if they can improve on that, then they should have a good season.”

What do you believe are the biggest issues facing Maresca at Stamford Bridge?

“Like most new managers, he needs to figure out which players want to be there and which don’t. Any players pulling against the grain or against the team will need to go. That’s the first thing that most managers have to figure out when they come into a new club. He needs to figure out who his main players are, establish his preferred 18 and then go from there. If he can get in a few players that suit his style of play, then ultimately I believe he’s inherited a good squad.”

Nico Williams, who’s starred for Spain at Euro 2024, continues to be linked with a move to Liverpool. From what you’ve seen of him at the tournament, what do you believe he could bring to this Liverpool team and would you be excited to see this transfer happen?

“I’ve not seen much of him at club level, but I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen of him at the Euros with Spain. He looks great, but I’m always reluctant to speak about potential transfers of players that have performed well at major tournaments. These players have been looking forward to this competition for a long time and almost every game is a cup final, so you’re always looking to bring your ‘A’ game. Nico’s a young lad that looks the real deal and if he’s doing this week in, week out for Athletic Bilbao, then fair play. However, everyone can look good in a major tournament due to the small number of games played and it shouldn’t be the sole basis for a club to sign a player off the back of their performances at the Euros. 

“If what he’s doing now is his regular level of performance, then Liverpool should definitely try and sign him.”

He’s also linked with a move to Chelsea too. Do you personally believe that Chelsea need to pursue another winger and do you believe he’s better than what the club have already?

“From what I’ve seen, he’s probably better than a few they’ve already got. As I’ve said before, Chelsea have so many youngsters and I believe they need more experience in the team. They need match winners and experienced players rather than an entire squad of young gems. I don’t believe they need another young winger right now. Chelsea need players that have been around the Premier League for many years, that have won trophies and know how to win. I think they’re already maxed out with youngsters if I’m being completely honest.”

If Chelsea are to add another winger to their roster, then could it be time for either Raheem Sterling or Mykhailo Mudryk to leave Stamford Bridge?

“They’ll have to get rid of one of them because I already believe they’ve got too many. There's been a lot of speculation regarding the pair of them and if the decision was mine, I’d keep Raheem. If they sign another winger this summer, then they’re going to have to sell someone.” 

Could one of the best pieces of business that Chelsea do this summer is keep a hold of Conor Gallagher?

“There’s been a lot of speculation about him leaving and I think it would be crazy if they got rid of him. I know people don’t believe he’s a world beater, but he’s still a solid, top player and it would cost a lot of money to replace him. The guy’s away with England at the Euros for God’s sake and he’s a reliable player that works his socks off. It would be crazy if he left.”

Lille’s Jonathan David, who scored 26 goals in all competitions for his club last season, including 19 in Ligue 1, is linked with a cut-price move to Stamford Bridge. He has 71 goals in 146 games in France’s top division and in your opinion, is he the right profile of striker that Chelsea should target?

“In terms of his attributes, then absolutely. You need players that are capable of playing in different ways. His record of a goal every two games or so is great, but the Premier League is different to Ligue 1. I’m not taking anything away from him because it’s an impressive record, but in the Premier League you’re not going to be able to score with the same frequency as he has been doing in France. However, when you consider his playing style and his capabilities in front of goal, then he’s definitely the type of striker that Chelsea need. It would be hard for them to not pursue this move if he’s available at an affordable price.”

Another striker linked with Chelsea is their former academy product Dominic Solanke. He’s said to have a release clause in his contract of £65 million, but do you believe he’s worth that amount of money and do you believe he would be a good addition for your former club?

“I don’t believe he’s worth £65 million. I certainly wouldn’t pay it. He’s had a good season at Bournemouth, but I don’t believe he has the right profile for a club like Chelsea. If Chelsea want to start competing, then they need strikers that are going to put fear into the opposition and I don’t believe many teams would be afraid of Dominic Solanke. He’s deserved his acclaim as he’s had a good season with Bournemouth, but we’ve been waiting for him to do this for four or five years and a £65 million player doesn’t need to take that much time to show what they can do.”

If you were to make a prediction, do you believe Mohamed Salah will be a Liverpool player next season?

“I think he will stay. I know there’s a lot of rumours currently about him moving away, but I think he will stay as long as they don’t get offered silly money for him. Ultimately, I don’t believe Liverpool will be offered silly money for him because of his age and that’s why I think it’s more likely that he will stay and Liverpool fans will be over the moon with that.”

Rumours continue to circulate regarding Luis Díaz moving to Barcelona this summer. Do you believe he’s indispensable to your former club?

“They can’t let him go at any cost. He’s one of the most exciting players that Liverpool have and he causes defenders all sorts of problems. I know it’s hard to compete against some clubs, especially when the likes of Barcelona come knocking, but I’d be surprised if the move is something that Luis even wants himself currently. Of course it’s going to grab the players attention but I’d be surprised if he actually wants to go. From Liverpool's perspective, I don’t think they’re going to let him go regardless.”

Do you believe it’s very important for Arne Slot to keep a hold of players such as Salah and Díaz if he’s going to have any chance of success in his first season at Anfield?

“He definitely shouldn’t want a big change, but swapping out two or three players would of course be no problem because that’s the norm. As long as he doesn’t get rid of any of the core players in the team, then he’s giving himself a better chance of success. The same goes for the staff at the club as well. 

“Put it this way, everyone already at Liverpool knows more about the club than he does, so as long as he makes his changes gradually, unlike Chelsea who went on a mass firing spree and got rid of several members of staff overnight, he will be fine. You need those people around you who know the club and if he’s intelligent, which I have no doubt that he is, he will know that you need those people to learn from regarding how the club functions, the culture, and so on. You need to know all this before you start making big changes. 

“I think he needs to keep all his key players, with the exception of swapping out a couple for the players he already has his eye on, and make changes gradually, then I think he can be successful.”

The Daily Mail have suggested that Liverpool will demand £35 million from any club interested in signing their goalkeeper Caoimhín Kelleher this summer. Can you seriously demand a fee of that amount for a number two or do you believe he’s just that good?

“To be honest, £35 million isn’t an awful lot nowadays for a player. If clubs want to sign him, then it would be with the intention of making him their number one, so to sign a number one for £35 million isn’t a lot of money in today’s market. To be fair to him, you barely see him put a foot wrong. If he’s got desire, he’s going to want to leave and play, so to sign a very good player for £35 million is a great deal in my opinion.

Do you believe Kelleher would be the number one at most other Premier League clubs?

“He definitely has what it takes to be the number one goalkeeper for the majority of Premier League clubs. Bar the keepers from the top three clubs, I don’t see anyone far better than him, so he definitely has what it takes.” 

It’s rumoured that Bayern Munich are prepared to listen to offers for Joshua Kimmich this summer as he’s yet to sign a new deal with the club. Liverpool have been previously linked and if he was to become available, do they need to move for him?

“Yes, absolutely, especially if he’s available for a cut-price fee. He’s played for a top club and won everything that there is to win. These players are hard to come by, so if you can get him for less than you’d usually have to pay, then it’s a no brainer. They should do whatever they can to sign him.”

According to the Telegraph, Crystal Palace will demand at least £65m for Marc Guéhi this summer. Do you believe either Chelsea or Liverpool should be in the queue to sign him?

“I couldn’t promise you right now that £65 million is a good bit of business but in terms of his profile, he looks like he’s going to be the real deal. Chelsea and Liverpool should definitely join the race for sure, as he looks like he’s going to be some player. 

“He’s still a young lad, he makes common mistakes like every single player does but one that sticks out in my head was in the game against Denmark where he made a mistake but then all of a sudden, he came out of nowhere, got down and made the block, so I love that attitude. He didn’t sulk or blame it on anyone else, he just got back and dealt with it, so if he’s got that mentality now, then he’s going to be a great player for sure. 

‘I’m not sure he’s worth £65 million right now, but two years from now it could be considered cheap. It does seem rather expensive at the moment, but he’s only going to go for whatever people are willing to pay, and if someone else is willing to pay it, then I think Chelsea and Liverpool should as well.”

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