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Glen Johnson on Liverpool’s summer transfer activity: “They’re not always the big spenders”
Premier League club’s this summer invested around £1.2bn in new faces, with Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United’s respective purchases of Jack Grealish, Romelu Lukaku and Jadon Sancho amongst the most expensive incomings in the league.
With many of their rivals strengthening considerably over the summer, it surprised many that Ibrahima Konaté was the only signing Liverpool made this summer, however their former defender Glen Johnson doesn’t believe it will affect the club’s chances of landing some silverware this season.
Bettingodds.com spoke to the former England full-back to discuss the future of Timo Werner, Chelsea’s decision to sell Kurt Zouma and his former teammate Saido Berahino’s move to Sheffield Wednesday.
Ibrahima Konaté was the only new face to join Liverpool this summer, and he has yet to displace Joël Matip in defence thus far. Do you believe Liverpool should have done more in the market this summer and how do you believe it will impact their chances of competing on all fronts this season? Do you see them with silverware come next summer?
“Yes, I can still see them winning silverware. It’s obvious that they’ve been quiet in the market but to be honest they’ve always been quiet. They’re not always the big spenders and we all know how they do their transfers, working with statistics and other forms of data. They’ll only buy players that suit all their criteria.
“I do wish that they had done more in the transfer market but it doesn’t surprise me that they didn’t.”
Timo Werner was once again on the bench against Liverpool at the weekend. Do you think he has a future at Chelsea?
“I know he gets a lot of stick but I actually think Timo has a future at Chelsea. I think his issue is that he’s so desperate to do well that he just tries too hard. Once he starts banging in a few goals then I think he will still come good. The way football is now though, you don’t get much time so he’s going to have to start delivering soon to release the pressure on himself.”
Romelu Lukaku has looked very impressive since his return to Chelsea. What have you made of his first few games back at the club?
“He’s hit the ground running hasn’t he? He’s banged in a couple, he looks the part and seems as if he’s a totally different player to the one that was there the first time. I think he’s proving to be a good signing for them.
“I always believed that Chelsea overlooked Olivier Giroud and they played better with him in the side, but Lukaku is a younger, fitter, stronger version of him. I think Lukaku suits their style of play and I think he’ll have a good season.”
Ben Chilwell has seemingly lost his place in the Chelsea starting XI to Marcos Alonso. If you were the manager then which left-back would you be choosing to start?
“To be honest, I’m a fan of both players. First of all, I was absolutely gobsmacked that Ben Chilwell didn’t start regularly at the European Championships for England in the summer. Having said that, Luke Shaw was brilliant anyway so I may have got that one wrong.
“To see Ben come back and not even start for Chelsea this season is a bit of a surprise. Alonso can put in a string of amazing performances but then he could go missing for a while. On his day he and Chilwell are like for like if I’m being honest.
“For me Chilwell would be my number one but when Alonso is playing well he gets involved and he scores goals, but over the course of the season I think Chilwell would be a more solid selection.”
West Ham completed the signing of Kurt Zouma at the backend of the transfer window. How much of an upgrade is he on the current centre backs at the club and are you surprised Chelsea let him go?
“As a West Ham guy, I’m delighted that they’ve signed him and I think it’s a great deal. He’s a good player, a young player and is super athletic. He’s a bubbly guy too so I reckon the West Ham lads would be really happy to have him with them.
“From a Chelsea perspective, I’m surprised they’ve sold him. There clearly must be something between him and Thomas Tuchel because otherwise they wouldn’t have let him go, even though I don’t know that personally.
“He’s a very good player and for him to turn up at West Ham is ideal for the Hammers.
West Ham are unbeaten in three and currently sit second in the Premier League table. Have they recruited well enough to contend with the top half of the table and go the distance for the season?
“They can compete for the top half of the table, yes. But as we saw last year they were flirting around the top four for a while and it’s not easy to do as the big boys have massive squads with big players. It’s hard for them to compete with that of course.
“For me, now, the top ten is nailed on, for sure, but hopefully they can just improve on last season and keep the fight going a little bit longer and hopefully creep up towards sixth and maybe even fifth. I think if they can keep everyone fit then they’ve got good enough players to do that.”
Onto Cristiano Ronalo’s return to Manchester United, do you think his arrival at the club will threaten young English players such as Jadon Sancho and Mason Greenwood’s development?
“I very much hope not. They should be rubbing their hands to want to work with him. So no, it won’t. If it hinders their improvement that's a fault of their own. You’ve got one of the best players in the world, one of the best players of all time that you’re going to be sharing a dressing room with - they should be walking in his shadows everyday and learning from him. It should be a good thing not a bad thing.”
You’ve been vocal in the past regarding how new Sheffield Wednesday signing Saido Berahino wasn’t your favourite teammate when you played together at Stoke City. Do you believe he can turn his career around at the club, and in League One, or do you envision that this will be another short term spell for Saido?
“Obviously I worked with him for a while and obviously I haven’t seen him for a few years so I don’t know whether he’s bucked his ideas up or not, but he’s capable of scoring goals. It’s all about him, really. If he gets his head right and wants to work hard and wants to perform, then I believe he can. It’s up to him. He’s got a lifeline, he’s got another opportunity. Let him show us what he can do.”