With Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema’s shock transfer to Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad now completed, Real Madrid’s interest in Tottenham Hotspur forward Harry Kane has reportedly intensified in the last few days. Former defender Glen Johnson believes that the England captain would be ‘crazy’ to not make the move to the Santiago Bernabéu if the opportunity presents itself. Glen spoke] to Betfred regarding Liverpool’s new signing Alexis Mac Allister, why he wouldn’t be surprised if Declan Rice made a move to the Bundesliga this summer and why he believes Chelsea will be Manchester City’s closest rivals for the Premier League title next season.
Do you believe Liverpool will challenge for the Premier League title next season? Which club do you believe will be the closest challengers to Manchester City next season?
“I obviously believe that Liverpool are going to improve next season, but I believe there’s a big gap between Manchester City and everybody else. I don’t believe they’ll challenge for the Premier League title next season, but I do believe that Chelsea will be the surprise package if I’m being honest. Chelsea have a fantastic squad but they weren’t firing at all last season, but now they have a good manager and a good squad, I believe they’ll have a point to prove and they’ll be challenging more than anybody expected. I don’t believe they’ll be good enough to take Manchester City all the way, but I believe Chelsea will be their closest rivals.”
With Alexis Mac Allister now through the door, how many more signings do you believe Liverpool need in the summer window and in what positions?
“A full-back, a central-midfielder and a striker. Liverpool already have a good squad but too many of them were out of form last season. If they get some form back and some luck with injuries, then I believe the squad’s not far off competing.”
Over the weekend, Liverpool were linked with a move for Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse. Would you like to see this transfer happen?
“I don’t believe he’s good enough to get into Liverpool’s starting eleven and really improve the team but on a cut-price deal, he could be a good squad player. He won’t command a starting spot, but with him coming off the bench and with his quality from set-pieces, then I believe he has a lot to offer. Going from a team that’s just been relegated to going to one that challenges for titles and competes in Europe represents a big jump in standard.”
Is Liverpool’s £35 million signing of Alexis Mac Allister an absolute bargain? As he was available at that price, then why do you believe he went to Liverpool over any other club?
“By today’s prices, it’s a cheap deal. He’s a good player and we don’t know how many other teams were in for his signature, but Liverpool have pulled off a good bit of business there. He’s not going to command a place in Liverpool’s starting line-up, but he’s certainly a good squad player.”
Bruno Guimarães is being linked with a shock move to Liverpool this summer. Considering that Newcastle United have just qualified for the Champions League for the first time in 20 years, do you believe Bruno would even want to leave Newcastle United for Liverpool this summer?
“If you’re playing for Newcastle United in the Champions League, then that’s a bit difficult to give up. I don’t know whether he sees himself at Newcastle in the long-term, but any time that a club like Liverpool comes in for you, then it’s always going to grab your attention. However, in regards to a move this summer, all the best players want to play in the Champions League so he may want to stay at Newcastle United for that reason. I still believe that Liverpool will have a sniff because it’s Liverpool after all and they’re going to be back in the Champions League themselves sooner rather than later.”
Another Premier League midfielder that’s linked with a move to Anfield is Wolves’ Rúben Neves. Barcelona are the current favourites for his signature, but do you believe that Rúben is good enough to start in Liverpool’s midfield?
“Yes, I do believe he’s good enough to start in Liverpool’s midfield. He’s a very good all-round midfielder and you can understand why many of the big clubs want to sign him. As long as he can maintain the same level of form and can remain injury free, then he could be a good addition to Liverpool’s midfield.”
Liverpool are reportedly interested in adding another centre-back to their ranks this summer. Jules Koundé is said to be a target as it’s reported that he’s unhappy at being played at right-back for Barcelona over the last year. Barcelona are said to want £52 million for the France international, do you believe he’d be worth the money?
“Yes, he would be worth that price tag. These days, £52 million for a defender of his calibre is relatively cheap isn’t it? I think he’s a good defender and I can understand if he’s unhappy with playing out of his preferred position at Barcelona because he’s not built to be a right-back. He would definitely be better as a centre-back.”
Another centre-back linked with a move to Anfield this summer is Crystal Palace defender, and former Chelsea academy graduate, Marc Guéhi. Do you believe he’d be a great signing considering his young age and the fact that he’s been a success for his club in the Premier League?
“Signing a player that’s been a success in the Premier League is always going to be a less risky move for a club such as Liverpool. With age on his side, he’s only going to get better and if Liverpool can get it done for the right price, then I believe it could be a good move for the club and the player.”
Fábio Carvalho is set to leave Liverpool on either a permanent transfer or loan this summer, despite only moving to Anfield last year. What do you believe went wrong for him at Liverpool? Do you believe he was given enough of a chance to impress?
“It does seem as if the club have made their minds up on Fábio quite early, but we don’t know what’s gone on behind closed doors. We can only imagine that he’s not impressed in training because I can’t remember the last time I saw him playing for Liverpool. The standard at Liverpool compared to Fulham, where he was previously, is completely different. Some players can do really well in smaller teams and then make a move to a huge club and not look as impressive. It happens quite a lot.
“Personally, I’d like to see him go out on loan. I believe it would be very premature to let him leave on a permanent deal now.”
You previously stated that you believe Liverpool need to sign a striker this summer. Who would you ideally like to see them sign?
“This may sound surprising, but I’d go for someone like Tammy Abraham. He’s gone away to Italy, scored plenty of goals and he knows the Premier League. If he’s the number nine in a proper team, then I believe he’s going to score a lot of goals and I don’t believe signing him would break the bank.”
Mauricio Pochettino has finally been named the new manager of Chelsea. Do you believe that Pochettino’s connection to Tottenham will make it difficult for him to endear himself to the Chelsea fans? Do you believe they’ll be less forgiving with him than other managers?
“He’s the Chelsea manager now and as long as he gets this team performing, then the fans are going to forget about his history with Tottenham. If it doesn’t go well, then the Tottenham connection could make some of the fans get on his back quite quickly. At the end of the day, they’re all football fans and they’re going to understand that Mauricio needs time. I believe Chelsea fans will be happy with Mauricio if there’s improvement this upcoming season.”
It’s reported that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Kalidou Koulibaly and César Azpilicueta could all be part of a mass clearout by Pochettino this summer. Are there any players in that list that you’d be desperate to keep if the decision was yours?
“I would like Chelsea to hold onto Hakim Ziyech and Kalidou Koulibaly this summer. Big, athletic centre-backs, such as Koulibaly, are hard to find and Ziyech on his day is world-class, even though he doesn’t show it as often as he should. I’d definitely like to see those two players stay at Chelsea.”
N’Golo Kanté is set to complete a move to Saudi Arabia with Al Ittihad this summer with his contract at Chelsea set to expire. He’s still only 32 years of age, so do you believe that it’s a shame to see a player of his talent make a move away from Europe’s top leagues at a relatively young age? Do you believe the €100 million a year in wages is too hard to turn down?
“Nobody can really say no to the money that’s been offered to him. It’s a shame that one of Chelsea’s best players isn’t moving to another top club, but unfortunately that’s the way it is. The decision is ultimately up to him and he may feel that his body’s slowing down a bit and he could benefit from two years of playing football at an easier standard. He could literally perform with a cigar in his mouth. He will have an easy life, easy money, so it must be difficult to say no to that.”
It’s been confirmed that João Félix won’t be returning to Chelsea next season. Do you believe that your former club is making a mistake by not securing his services again for next season?
“As a player, you’d want him around for sure, but then there’s the business side of it. How much is he going to cost? If you have to break the bank for him, is he worth it? Probably not, despite the fact he’s a fantastic player. I’m sure Chelsea would have attempted to have kept João, but I can only imagine that the numbers were too much.”
Chelsea are one of the bookmaker’s favourites to sign sought-after Napoli striker Victor Osimhen. For you, is he the perfect striking option for Chelsea to sign this summer?
“Yes. He certainly looks the real deal and he’s athletic and strong. If Chelsea are looking to sign a striker this summer then Victor would be an ideal signing in that role as he’s been playing so well and I believe he will suit the Premier League. It’s a signing that would get the Chelsea fans excited too.”
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is said to be confident in securing the signature of Mason Mount from Chelsea this summer. Would you be shocked to see Mason make the move to Old Trafford and do you think he would have been better off making the move to Liverpool or staying at Chelsea?
“I am shocked that it looks as if Mason’s heading to Old Trafford. I don’t believe that Manchester United needs Mason and I believe that it’s a weird move for the player as well. Manchester United is obviously a huge club, but they’re not nailed on to win anything.
“I believe that Chelsea need to keep him and it would be strange to see them allow Mason to make the move to Manchester United. If he was to leave Chelsea for another Premier League club, then I believe Liverpool would have suited him better.”
Do you believe Chelsea have the right to demand £80 million for Mason? The midfielder could be available on a free transfer next summer if he allows his contract to run down.
“Well if they’re asking for £80 million, then I believe that’s evidence that Chelsea are looking to keep him. If they wanted to get rid of Mason, they would be asking for significantly less money. If Chelsea still have hopes of tying him down to a new contract, then they’ve got to do it very soon because in six months time he could agree to join a huge club outside of the Premier League, such as Bayern Munich, for free.”
If rumours are to be believed, Manchester United captain Harry Maguire could be included in any deal for Mount. Mauricio Pochettino is said to be a fan of Maguire and reportedly wanted the player when he was Tottenham manager. Do you believe he could rejuvenate his career at Chelsea?
“Probably not. When Pochettino was at Tottenham, Harry wasn’t playing that bad then. Whether Mauricio would be interested in Harry Maguire now is a totally different prospect. If Manchester United don’t want him, then why would Chelsea? They’re two clubs that are competing for the same things and I know that players are capable of bouncing back from a loss of form, but it doesn’t make sense for a club such as Chelsea to sign a player from a rival club that’s surplus to requirements. Harry could bounce back and he does have a lot to offer, but I’m not so sure that he’s good enough for Chelsea.”
Chelsea are said to be the frontrunners for Brighton midfielder Moisés Caicedo. When you talk about the likes of Mateo Kovačić, Mason Mount and N’Golo Kanté potentially leaving Chelsea this summer, do you believe the likes of Caicedo and Enzo Fernández can fill the void of the players that are expected to leave?
“If Mateo, Mason and N’Golo all leave this summer, then it will leave a big void for the other midfielders to fill. If Chelsea can sign Moisés from Brighton, then he alongside Enzo Fernández could be a very good pairing and both players could have big futures at Chelsea.”
What have you made of Mykhailo Mudryk’s first six months at Chelsea? Do you still believe he will be a success at Stamford Bridge or have you been left unimpressed by what you’ve seen of him?
“Overall, I’ve been unimpressed. However, sometimes it takes certain players more time to adapt than others. I still believe that Mykhailo has a lot to give and he looks like he’s going to threaten a lot, but he just doesn’t do a lot. Once he gets used to the Premier League and what the team needs him to do, then he’s certainly got the attributes to be very dangerous. I don’t believe he will be given much more time to impress at Chelsea, so he needs to hit the ground running when the new season begins in August.”
You’ve previously told us that you believe Édouard Mendy is Chelsea’s number one goalkeeper. Since we last spoke, Mendy has been linked with a move to Tottenham, so if that move was to come to fruition, do you believe Édouard is a level up from the outgoing Hugo Lloris?
“At the moment I believe he is. Hugo has obviously been a world-class goalkeeper for many, many years, but he hasn’t been at his best for a while. I’d be surprised if that move comes to fruition, but I believe Édouard could walk into most teams.”
Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier is currently linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, but the Frenchman is said to only be interested in the transfer if he’s guaranteed the number one spot. Do you believe he’s good enough to be Chelsea’s number one?
“I don’t believe he’s good enough to be Chelsea’s number one currently. Not at all. If he goes to Chelsea this summer, then I believe he will be the club’s number two. I don’t see that deal happening at all, unless both Édouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga both left.”
Do you believe David Moyes should remain as West Ham’s manager next season after the club’s Europa Conference League triumph against Fiorentina?
“I don’t know, it’s a tough one. I definitely don’t believe he deserves to be sacked, but if they mutually decided to go their separate ways, then that would be understandable. It all depends on what the owners want to happen over the next couple of years. I know they’ve won the cup and stayed up in the Premier League, but we can’t forget that West Ham were floating around the bottom of the table for most of the season. The club’s fans will still be unhappy with that. The trophy is only going to carry David so far as West Ham can’t be in another relegation dogfight next season. If the owners don’t believe that David is the man to take them forward then I don’t believe they will sack him, I believe both parties will shake hands and part ways mutually.”
Bayern Munich are a shock contender to sign West Ham captain Declan Rice, who’s also of interest to Arsenal and Manchester United too. Thomas Tuchel is said to be a huge fan of Declan and Bayern are reportedly prepared to offer up to €100m for the England international. How surprised would you be if Declan decided to make the move to the Bundesliga?
“I wouldn’t be that surprised to be honest because Bayern Munich is a huge club and if Declan goes there, he’s going to play with some world-class players. Declan would suit any club that wants him and I’m sure he has plenty of options, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he was to make the move to Germany with Bayern Munich.”
“I don’t believe Declan will stay at West Ham United this summer, but in his heart I believe he would want to. Realistically for his career, he needs to make a move to a top club if he’s going to win more trophies. I believe he’d personally love to stay, but realistically I’m sure he’s accepted that he needs to leave.”
West Ham are linked with Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay. Do you believe Scott would be an adequate replacement for Declan Rice, with the England international expected to leave the London Stadium this summer?
“Scott and Declan are different players. Scott’s not a world beater and the fans aren’t going to be up all night partying if they sign him, but I believe he would be a good squad player for West Ham and he is the sort of player that they need currently.”
Are there any players from the three recently relegated Premier League sides that you’d advise any of your clubs to sign this summer?
“It’s hard to say that any player from a relegated club would be good enough to make the huge jump to playing for one of the top six clubs in the Premier League, but sometimes you can find a few gems. I believe that West Ham United would be over the moon to sign a player like James Ward-Prowse.
“James Maddison is probably the one player from the relegated clubs that has the class to play for a Chelsea or a Liverpool. I doubt they’d be able to do that deal on the cheap because he’s Leicester City’s prized asset and he’s far too good to be playing in the Championship next season.”
Real Madrid are the current favourites to sign Tottenham’s Harry Kane. Do you believe he should stay at Tottenham and try and break the Premier League’s all-time goalscoring record, or do you believe he would be foolish to not make the move to the Santiago Bernabéu?
“It would be crazy for him not to go. If Real Madrid come knocking, then you have to at least consider the move. If he goes there he’s going to win something. I don’t know if he’s going to win the Champions League, but he’s probably going to win La Liga and the Copa del Rey at the very least.
“Harry just has to weigh up what’s more important to him, is it the Premier League goalscoring record or is it winning trophies? I would be really surprised if Real Madrid came knocking for Harry and he didn’t want to go.”
Ange Postecoglou has been named the new manager of Tottenham Hotspur. Do you believe managing a huge club, such as Celtic, would hold him in good stead to manage Tottenham? Do you believe Ange is going to be a success at Spurs?
“Ange was obviously very successful at Celtic, but Tottenham’s a completely different ball game. He’s obviously a good manager and if he can replicate the same style of play he implemented at Celtic and structures the team in a similar fashion, then there’s a good chance he can be a success at Tottenham. Tottenham still have a good squad and are a big football club, so I’m sure he will have the tools he needs to be successful.
“It’s not a name that’s going to get the fans massively excited and I suppose he’s not the sexiest appointment the club could have made but if he gets Tottenham performing, then the fans are going to love him right? The fans need to get behind him if he’s going to be a success. The fans can’t go into the new season feeling negative from the get-go, otherwise they’ll be calling for his head after a few bad results. Everybody needs to pull in the same direction to give Ange the best opportunity to be successful.”
Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker, two of your former teammates, are both linked with the vacant manager’s role at Leeds United. Do you believe either would be a fantastic appointment?
“I believe they’re both managers with bright futures. I’m sure both of them would want that job because Leeds United are a massive football club. This job would be ideal for either of them considering the positions they’re currently in, in their careers. I believe either one of them would do a good job.”