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Glen Johnson on Darwin Núñez: “He’d pick Liverpool over United”

Glen Johnson discusses potential replacements Liverpool could move for if Sadio Mané departs.
Glen Johnson discusses potential replacements Liverpool could move for if Sadio Mané departs.

After 269 appearances, 120 goals and six trophies, it looks as if Sadio Mané’s time at Liverpool is drawing to a close. BettingOdds.com have caught up with Glen Johnson to discuss Mané’s potential departure and the players linked with being his replacement. Glen also discusses whether Romelu Lukaku should leave Chelsea this summer, Mason Mount to Manchester United links and who he believes should win the PFA Players' Player of the Year award.

It’s being reported that Sadio Mané is set to leave Liverpool this summer. Do you believe Liverpool need to replace him? 

“I think they’re going to need to replace him. I know Mo Salah has more goals, but Sadio is still very influential in that side, so when one of your main players leaves then they’re going to need replacing. I don’t think they have a good enough squad just yet to deal without him.”

Times journalist Paul Joyce has claimed that Darwin Núñez is one of the names being considered by Liverpool as a potential replacement for Sadio Mané. Manchester United are also seriously interested in the Benfica striker, but if Liverpool come into the race, then surely he’s heading to Anfield instead isn’t he?


“You’d think Núñez would head to Anfield if it’s between Liverpool and Manchester United. As we know, Manchester United don’t have the same pulling power they once did. There was a time when Manchester United came calling then the answer was ‘yes’. That’s not the case at the moment, so if Liverpool and Manchester United are going head to head for him then I’m sure he’d pick Liverpool over United.

“If Liverpool are to pay the £100 million that Benfica supposedly want for him, then that’s against their structure and the way they do business, but that’s the way the game is going. If they don’t start opening up to that, then others will capitalise on that. I do like the way Liverpool do their business, but they need to be a bit flexible with it because the other big guns will be willing to pay it, whether it’s against their protocols or not.”


Harry Kane is one of the players being linked with a move to Liverpool this summer. Would he be someone you’d love to see come in and replace Sadio Mané? Could you imagine Liverpool breaking the bank for him? 


“Personally, I’d love to see him at Liverpool. I think he’d be a great fit for them. We know how Liverpool do their business and I don’t think they’d break the bank for someone of Harry’s age. I know he’s not old but Liverpool don’t do that sort of thing. I’d be very surprised if the deal came off, but I’d like to see it happen.”

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Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips is a rumoured target for Liverpool this summer. He’s also linked with a move to both Manchester United and Manchester City. Where’s the best place for him in your opinion in regards to both progression and receiving enough game time?


“I don’t think he’d get much game time at either of those clubs if I’m being honest. I’m a fan of his and I think he’s a fantastic player, but all of those clubs have got many players in his position. I think it all depends on what happens with other players. I don’t want to keep on bringing up Declan Rice, but I think the clubs that don’t get him will certainly be more keen to go for Phillips. I think it all depends on other transfers as there’s no point in moving clubs to not play. Unless there’s more movement in terms of outgoings, then I don’t see him playing much at either club.”


On the point of Declan Rice, do you believe now would be the right time for West Ham to cash in on him? Considering that it doesn’t look like he will sign a new deal at the club and his contract expiring in 2024.

“Yes absolutely. It’s not good business to let players walk out for free or run their contract down. It doesn’t make any sense. West Ham have to be ruthless with him and say “here’s the contract, either sign it and if you don’t want to sign it then you’ve got to go’. You can’t let your best players leave on either a discount or a free. If West Ham don’t believe he’s going to commit himself long-term then they’ve got to get rid of him.”


Kalvin Phillips’ Leeds United teammate Raphinha is being linked with a move to Anfield also as a back-up for Mohamed Salah. Do you believe he’s too good to be a backup? And do you believe he’d opt against a move if his gametime was to be limited? Barcelona were leading the race for the player, but his £60 million valuation could put an end to that deal. 


“I think if you sign for a bigger club, then you’ve got to expect to fight for your place. I think he is good enough to bang the door down and I do believe he will get enough gametime at Liverpool. Bear in mind that if he does go to Liverpool then they’re going to play twice as many games as Leeds do. However, I do believe he will get his game time and I think he’s good enough to nail down a place in the starting eleven.”


Speaking of Mo Salah, The Athletic have reported that he’s open to a move to a Premier League rival in 2023, unless he receives a significantly improved offer from Liverpool. If he was to move to Manchester City for example, would he completely ruin his legacy at Liverpool?


“If he went somewhere like Manchester City, then he could possibly ruin his legacy at Liverpool. I don’t think he would move to another Premier League, if I’m honest. We know how much he loves Liverpool, so I don’t know if he could go through with a move like that. This may be a scare tactic from his team, but I’m not too sure. If he did move to a rival like City though, then yes, he definitely runs the risk of ruining his legacy at Liverpool.”


Today's Football Tips

Representatives of Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku are said to be negotiating his return to Inter Milan. Do you believe the player should show more guts and go out to prove himself at Chelsea rather than looking for a return to Inter at the first opportunity?


“I personally would want to go again next season and prove myself, but I feel with Lukaku that he’s had a whole season to show that sort of courage and he hasn’t. I can’t see anything changing next season. If he was the sort of player that can stand up and show courage next season, then I think we would have already seen hints of that. I can see him settling elsewhere because if he has that type of courage to bounce back in pre-season, then he should have had the courage to bounce back during his first season. I don’t see him bouncing back next season, so maybe a move somewhere else is best for both parties.”


The British tabloids have suggested that Manchester United are monitoring Mason Mount’s contract situation at Chelsea. Surely there’s no way Chelsea would even consider selling him to a fellow Premier League side? And do you assume he wouldn’t even want to leave Chelsea?


“I fully believe he’ll stay. It’s going to be a very simple deal to do. I believe he’d rather stay at Chelsea for less money than go to Manchester United for more money. We know he’s got blue blood and he loves the club and he’s won their Player of the Season again this year. I don’t think he’s going to be looking to go anywhere to be honest, and certainly not Manchester United.” 


Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembélé, whose contract expires this summer, is said to be holding out for a move to Chelsea, according to PA news agency. If you can get a player of his quality on a free, then in your eyes is the move a no brainer?


“I believe it’s a no-brainer. You’ve got to do some clever business. You can’t just go out and spend top dollar for all the best players. If you can get players on the cheap or on a free then it makes absolute sense. You have to think, what would Dembélé cost if he had four years left on his contract? So yes, I think if that sort of deal becomes available then you have to jump at it.” 


Finally, the PFA Player of the Year awards take place on the 9th of June. We’re just wondering who you believe should win the PFA Young Player and Men’s PFA Players' Player of the Year awards?


“For PFA Young Player of the Year, I’d have to go with Phil Foden. I think it’s quite easy that one. He’s been sensational again, won the league again, scoring big goals and he just looks like he’s been around forever. 

“How is Son Heung-min not on the list for the main award? It’s ridiculous, he’s the joint Golden Boot winner. I would have picked Son or Kevin De Bruyne. De Bruyne has done it all. I know Manchester City are a fantastic side but they’re even better with him and they can’t match it when he’s not playing. So I’ll go for De Bruyne as my winner. I would have picked Son as he’s got the Golden Boot in a team that’s struggled and he’s not even made the list. Harry Kane has been class but I think it’s an embarrassment that Son isn’t even on the list.” 


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