Glen Johnson on Raheem Sterling: “He should be back in the England squad”

 | November 08 | 

16 mins read

glen johnson footy

Ahead of the latest England squad announcement tomorrow, Glen Johnson is backing his former teammate Raheem Sterling to return to Gareth Southgate’s squad. Speaking to Betfred, Glen discussed the form of Cole Palmer, why Liverpool need to hold onto Mo Salah and why he doesn’t believe Chelsea should join the race to sign Manchester United’s Jadon Sancho.

After the victory against Tottenham on Monday night, do you believe this is the victory that signifies that Chelsea are on the way up or do you believe that they can take much from their victory against nine men?

“Chelsea didn’t play the whole game against nine men, so there’s certainly positives they can take from it. Tottenham were unbeaten, they’ve been playing really well and they impressed in the game itself, so it was good that Chelsea could go toe to toe with them when they had eleven men, but then the game panned out the way it did and that affected the result. There were definitely many positives for Chelsea to take from the game.”

Do you believe Cole Palmer is going to do big things for Chelsea?

“He’s super young and it looks as if he’s got bags of potential. When they signed him, I didn’t believe he would be playing in the first-team as quickly as he has done, so fair play to him. He evidently has the respect of the players and the manager because they trust him and putting him on penalty duties is a sign of that trust. As long as he keeps working hard and performing, then I believe he can be a huge player for Chelsea. We just have to hope that he doesn’t take this opportunity for granted and takes his foot off the pedal."

Do you believe Gareth Southgate should consider calling Cole up to the England squad that’s announced tomorrow?

“Playing for England is the pinnacle, so I’d like to see Cole do a bit more before he’s given that opportunity. I don’t like seeing players being given a call-up off the back of a couple of good performances. I’d like him to stay out of the England senior squad for now because it will give him the hunger to work even harder in the meantime, but I’m sure he will be a fantastic player for England in the future..”

Do you believe Cole’s club teammate Raheem Sterling will receive a call-up?

“Yes because for me, he’s always the one knocking on the door. When he is in form, he should be there all day long but his form does fluctuate. One minute he’s doing well, and then the other he’s non-existent for a game or two.

“He’s scored a couple and assisted a few goals recently. He’s looking sharp again so for me, he should be back in the next England squad in my opinion.” 

After his hat-trick against Tottenham, do you believe we’re about to see the very best of Nicolas Jackson?

“I hope so. I’ve always been positive about him because he really impressed me in his first few games for Chelsea. It’s clear that he fell away slightly after that, but a hat-trick is still a hat-trick even though he probably wouldn’t have had the opportunities to get those goals if he was up against eleven men. At the end of the day though, his confidence is now going to be flowing and hopefully he can maintain that level of performances in the upcoming games and we can see the very best of him.”

Can we get a prediction from you for Chelsea’s home Premier League fixture against Manchester City on Sunday?

“I do believe they have a chance. Before the Tottenham game, people were debating whether Mauricio Pochettino was under pressure with their next five fixtures looking very tough, but sometimes top teams thrive on that added pressure. A top team needs to be motivated, they need to train as hard as they can and then sometimes you can get a performance out of the blue like Chelsea put in against Tottenham because nobody saw that result coming. 

“Against Manchester City, of course it’s going to be very tough for Chelsea but they’re at home and are coming into the fixture off the back of a good result, so personally I believe it will be a draw. I think they will get something out of the game, but I don’t know whether they will be capable of winning.”

Conflicting reports are suggesting that Brentford want £80m-£100m for Ivan Toney. Chelsea are reportedly one of Toney’s suitors, but do you believe Brentford can demand such an amount for a player that’s played football competitively for six months?

“It’s probably a case that that’s what they’re hoping for, opposed to what they’ll actually get for Ivan. Brentford know that they’re only going to get one chance to sell Ivan Toney and they will want to receive as much as they possibly can for him. 

“I don’t think his price will drop too much because of the ban because it’s not as if Ivan’s been injured for the past six months. If it was an injury we were talking about, then Brentford surely couldn’t demand such a fee for Ivan. Once Ivan is match fit, then there will be no problems going forward but I still believe that £80 million to £100 million is too much for him anyway.” 

As a former Chelsea player, why do you believe Ivan should opt for a move to Stamford Bridge instead of Arsenal?

“I believe Chelsea need him more and he would suit the way they play. Chelsea are clearly planning for the future and they’re continuing to build, but Arsenal are competing right now so it all depends on who Ivan believes will be competing for trophies more in the next five years.”

Chelsea have recently been linked with a move for Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simón, but in your opinion has Robert Sánchez shown enough to suggest he should be your former club’s number one in the long-term?

“I think Sánchez is good enough to play at this level, but I don’t believe he’s good enough to play for a Premier League title winning team. 99% of teams that win the Premier League have a world-class goalkeeper between the sticks because it always comes down to fine, fine margins and you need a goalkeeper that’s good enough to bail you out. 

“Robert’s certainly a good Premier League goalkeeper, but title winning teams always have a world-class goalkeeper and I don’t believe Robert is in that bracket just now.”

Another goalkeeper that’s linked with a move to Stamford Bridge at present is Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale after he was dropped from his club’s starting eleven by Mikel Arteta. Do you believe that Aaron would welcome a move across London to Stamford Bridge? Is Aaron a world-class goalkeeper in your opinion?

“He’s certainly put in some world-class performances for Arsenal, but can he do that every week? Obviously not, otherwise Mikel Arteta wouldn’t have dropped him. Aaron hasn’t done it at the highest level, so you can’t say just yet that he’s capable of being the goalkeeper for a title winning team. He’s capable however of making crazy saves and not all goalkeepers are capable of doing that. 

“To be deemed a world-class goalkeeper you need to be playing for your country, you need to be performing in the Champions League and you need to be playing for a team that has a chance of winning the league. If you’re not doing that, then you can’t be deemed world-class.”

Do you believe Aaron is unlucky to not be Arsenal’s number one at the moment?

“I like both him and David Raya. Ramsdale is a good shot stopper and he’s improved with his feet as well. That surprised people when he signed for Arsenal because nobody expected him to have that in his locker and be capable of playing out from the back. 

“I don’t believe he’s been dropped due to his performances, I believe he’s been dropped because Mikel Arteta prefers David Raya. I’m torn between the two of them because I like them both, but if Ramsdale was world-class then he wouldn’t have been dropped in the first place.”

How do you believe Moisés Caicedo has performed so far in a Chelsea shirt?

“He’s doing okay. If there wasn’t all the hype regarding the bidding war between Chelsea and Liverpool and costing over £100 million, then I think everybody would be saying that he’s doing alright. I don’t believe he’s lived up to all the hype, but that’s not necessarily his fault. Everything that goes on in the transfer market has nothing to do with him. 

“I believe his performances have improved in recent weeks but as he came from another Premier League club, he shouldn't have needed this much time to settle because he knows the league. Ultimately, I believe that he still has a lot to give.” 

Sticking with Caicedo, he recently declared that he believes that Chelsea will soon become one of the Premier League’s best teams. Do you believe there’s evidence that suggests that Caicedo’s prediction will come true? 

“Yes, but not in the near future. Manchester City are well ahead at the moment and so are a few other clubs. To close the gap on the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal is a big jump and it isn’t going to happen overnight, but the owners have spent so much money because they’re trying to achieve that. I believe they can do it, but it’s going to take time, a lot of hard work and some luck in the transfer window by finding some rough diamonds. The gap at the minute is substantial.”

Crystal Palace centre-back, and England international, Marc Guéhi is linked with a return to Stamford Bridge. He’s also linked with moves to Arsenal and Manchester United. Do you believe Chelsea are in need of another centre-back and do you believe a return for Marc would be an excellent addition for your former club?

“Yes, because he’s playing really well now and continuing to learn the game. I quite like that he’s doing it at a smaller club, learning his stripes and getting plenty of game time.

“With Chelsea, Thiago Silva is not going to play forever, so they will definitely need another centre-back. So for someone who is doing it in the Premier League at the moment and is at the right age, I think he would tick a lot of the right boxes.”

Thiago Silva’s contract at Chelsea expires this summer and the centre-back is being linked with a return to Fluminense in Brazil. Silva is 39 years of age and in your opinion, do you believe it’s time for Chelsea to focus on the future and priortise a move for a centre-back that’s going to be there for the foreseeable future, or is Thiago too important to lose for Chelsea?

“When he plays he doesn’t look 39, so credit to him. Goalkeepers can play to that age because they barely move, but centre-back is a difficult position. As a nearly 40-year-old centre-back trying to chase these young strikers, it’s going to catch up on him eventually. I’m not saying that Chelsea should release him in the summer, but the club and the management staff have to consider how much he’ll actually play next season. 

“It would probably be a good mutual decision for Chelsea to allow him to play his football somewhere easier for a couple of years before retirement and that allows the club to focus on more long-term targets.

“He will certainly be missed in the dressing room and on the pitch. He’s started nearly every week since he was fit, so it’s credit to him. The younger lads will also miss him as I’m sure they’re learning bundles from him in the dressing room, but all good things come to an end. I think a nearly 40-year-old centre-back is pushing it.”

Do you believe Chelsea should consider signing Manchester United outcast Jadon Sancho?

“I think it’s a move they should definitely avoid. He has been at Manchester United for a long time and I can’t recall a time where he's played three games or more in a row. If you’re not doing it at Manchester United, when you have more established and senior players in the dressing room that can kick you into shape, you’re not going to do it at Chelsea either.

“If he goes to Chelsea where it’s a young dressing room, he’s going to get away with murder and he could potentially get worse. The kid has clearly got some ability, but there’s something wrong, whether it’s his attitude or his work rate, I’m not sure. He is more a FIFA player than a player for a big team in my opinion.”

After Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Luton on Sunday, your former club are now three points off league leaders Manchester City. Arsenal and Tottenham both lost in the gameweek just gone so in your opinion, who’re the current favourites to win the Premier League title this season?

“Tottenham have been super impressive. They were even good with nine men against Chelsea and could have even nicked a goal before they got a caught on the break, so they’re definitely performing at the level required. However, do they have the knowledge and experience to win the league? I’m not so sure. 

“It sounds boring to say Manchester City are still the favourites to win the Premier League, but they are. They wouldn’t have drawn away at Luton, even if they were playing rubbish. They would have still won that game, but Liverpool couldn't.That's the difference.

“No disrespect to Luton, but if you want to win the league you can’t draw that game and I don’t think that any potential title-winning team would draw that game. If you’re going to drop points like that, I think you’re going to need some luck to win the league and Manchester City are still my favourites to win it. Even if they are not performing at their best, they will still win those matches.”

Is Alexis Mac Allister being wasted in this defensive midfield role he’s currently being deployed in for Liverpool?

He’s being wasted in that role and I don’t think he wants to play there, so credit to him for doing a job for the team.

“He’s good enough to play in that position here and there, but it’s not fitting of his attributes because he’s more of a clever player that gets in between the lines and has an attacking brain, so I don’t think he wants to do it, but the team needs him to do it at the minute. For the team to really kick on, I think they need a natural player there who doesn’t really want to attack and just performs that role really well. He’s a great player and I do feel as though he’s being wasted because he is better than that.”

It’s widely expected that Kalvin Phillips will leave Manchester City in the January transfer window. Liverpool are evidently in need of a player that can occupy that number six role in their team, so do you believe Kalvin would be a smart January addition for your former side?

“If the price is right. I like him and he’s that sort of player who is happy to sit in that deep midfield role, win the ball back and feed it back to someone else, so I do think he would fit the bill, but not if you’re talking £50 to £60 million when he’s hardly played.

“If you’re trying to compete with these top teams whilst signing the players they don’t want, then you won’t be scaring the likes of Manchester City.”

With Thiago Alcântara’s contract at Liverpool expiring at the end of the season, how would you sum up his time at Anfield?

“He’s a great player and I’m a big fan of him and what he does on the pitch. His injuries have hindered and slowed him down and I think he came into the side when there were players around him that maybe weren’t at the same level, which wouldn’t have helped him. I would say that his season hasn’t gone as well as he was hoping, which is a shame because I rate him so much, but that’s only due to injuries.

“Would I offer him a new contract if the decision was mine? It depends on that treatment table in terms of how serious his injuries are. If they’re only small, minor little knocks then I would, but if they’re big muscle or joint injuries, then I would have to think twice.”

With eight goals in eleven Premier League games so far this season, Mo Salah is second place in the league’s top goalscorer rankings. Do you believe Mo’s as good as he’s ever been for your former side and do you believe Liverpool should do all they can to prevent Mo from moving to Saudi Arabia in either the January or summer transfer windows?

“I don’t think he’s at his best purely because of how high he’s set the bar previously. When Liverpool were winning the league, he was outrageous, scoring nearly every time he had the ball, which was a joke.

“He’s certainly still playing very well and close to his best, so even now I think Liverpool needs to be doing all they can to keep him because you’re not going to find another Mo Salah who is going to walk into his position and do what he’s doing right now. You’ve got to try and keep him when he’s still performing at a very high level.”


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