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John Barnes: Phil Foden has the potential to be special but we shouldn’t expect him to win England the Euros

Expectations are high for Phil Foden at Euro 2021.
Expectations are high for Phil Foden at Euro 2021.

BettingOdds.com has teamed up with former England, Liverpool and Newcastle player John Barnes to give us his insight in the lead up to this summer's Euro 2021 Championships...

Phil Foden’s a three time Premier League winner, a one time FA Cup winner and a four time League Cup winner, but despite all these achievements at only 21 years of age, John Barnes doesn’t believe that England should rely on him when it’s comes to winning Euro 2020.

In a new series of interviews with the England legend, John tells BettingOdds.com why the country shouldn’t pin their hopes on the national team’s younger players at Euro 2020, why Liverpool’s new signing Ibrahima Konate will not spell the end for Joe Gomez and why Aaron Ramsey fits the profile of what his former club need.

Reports last week have suggested that Euro 2020 matches at Wembley are set to have a full capacity. What impact can you see that having on the England team, do you think it will spur them on or intensify the pressure on the squad

“I feel like a full stadium at any football match is an inspiration to whoever’s playing. You look at certain club sides who have benefited from playing in an empty stadium with the lack of expectation on their shoulders and I’m not saying England would be like that without the crowd.

“Will England be under more pressure by playing in front of the fans and not an empty stadium? If 80,000 turn up to Wembley then I don’t think that will be a hindrance to the England players or an advantage as it will be new for everybody.”

Phil Foden is going to go into the Euros off the back of an incredible season for his club, Manchester City. Do you believe he’s the best player England has produced since your former teammate Paul Gascoigne?

“Not necessarily. We have Raheem Sterling as well as other players, but the thing is that we should give Phil more time to develop. This was his first year as a key first team player at Manchester City.

“Theo Walcott was meant to be the next big thing wasn’t he? We put so much pressure on these young players after they’ve had one good season and then compare them to Paul Gascoigne who was a superstar for many years.

“Phil certainly has the potential to be, but of course we’ve had so many players with potential in the past but they never realised it. Don’t put pressure on Phil Foden by saying ‘You’re the reason why we’re going to win Euro 2020’, that pressure should be more on the senior players. Phil Foden should just be allowed to enjoy the experience, but of course he has the potential to be special.”

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It seems highly likely that Liverpool are on the verge of completing the signing of RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. Do you believe he’s being bought to replace Joe Gomez in Liverpool’s first team?

“I don’t believe this signing will spell the end for Joe Gomez. Joe is one of the main centre-backs at Liverpool at this moment in time. Just because Konate is coming in, that doesn’t mean he’s going to play well and take Joe’s place in the team.

“When Naby Keita came in, people expected him to take Jordan Henderson or whoever’s place in that midfield but that hasn’t worked out, so you can’t look at the Konate situation and assume that spells the end for Joe. If Konate comes in and doesn’t fit, then he won’t play.

“Joe is an England international and he’s in a different position to say Nat Phillips because he can play all the time anyway and he’ll push Konate for that position. It won’t spell the end for Joe but it will be good for Liverpool to have more options.”

One defender who is rumoured to be heading towards the exit door at Anfield is Nat Phillips. Do you believe he has a future at Liverpool?

“First of all he’s done a fantastic job for the club, but once Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip return from injury then he’s not going to get into the side ahead of them. So it’s not a question of whether he’s deserving of a place, it’s a question of if he wants it.

“Of course at his age now he will want to be playing regularly and I have so much admiration for players who want to play, even if that entails taking a step down. What’s the point of staying at a club if you’re not going to play? He’s 24 years old.

“His stock has gone up and if you’re saying that he’s available for £10 million, then you’d have thought that nobody would have been thinking of Nat Phillips as a £10 million player six months ago. It’s all down to whether Nat feels happy at Liverpool and if he feels happy being part of a squad where he plays every now and again, or whether he wants to play regularly.

“From my perspective, I’d always choose to play every week and play regularly and if he chooses to follow the same path then I’d have nothing but respect for him.”

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Rumours persist that former Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey is planning a return to the Premier League this summer and Liverpool are one the clubs rumoured to be interested. Can you see this transfer happening?

“If you look at the age of Jordan Henderson now and his fitness, then you look at Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who isn’t playing much as well as Xherdan Shaqiri, then Liverpool could be losing some midfield players so in that sense, I think Aaron Ramsey would be a good signing.

“I think he would suit the type of player that Liverpool would want as he can get up and down the pitch, he’s a strong, all action, box-to-box footballer, which is what Liverpool want from their midfielders.

“I don’t think he’d suit a side like Manchester City as they’d want someone like a David Silva kind of player. What Aaron Ramsey offers is a great workrate, physicality, an ability to get box-to-box, humility and commitment so of course I think he’d be a great fit for Liverpool 100%.”

Onto your former club Newcastle. Steve Bruce was able to lead his side out of the relegation dogfight and into a respectable 12th place finish as the Premier League season came to a close. Do you believe he deserves more credit?

“For where Newcastle are now, the next level for them is mid-table at this moment in time. If Mike Ashley sells the club and they get in somebody who the fans like and they spend more money on players then they can begin to move on.

“In the current climate, Steve Bruce is doing as well as any manager could. Newcastle shouldn’t be looking at the next level. They should be looking for stability and the best they can hope for is around mid-table.

“This season it was probably the best thing for them that there were no fans there. Fans would have been negative because of the way that they were playing and I could have seen them getting relegated.

“Unfortunately for Steve, as long as Mike Ashley is the owner, when the fans return there will be that negativity which will affect him and the team.”

You made 296 appearances for Watford so you must be delighted to see them return to the Premier League at the first time of asking. Their captain Troy Deeney missed a lot of the season through injury, do you think he can still be their talisman next season?

“Watford can stay up but it’s going to be difficult. They have to understand they’re in a dogfight.  The season before, when they got relegated, will stand them in good stead to know what they have to do. They know they have to invest, which they will, so they’ve got a good chance.

“Troy [Deeney] played a key role when they got promoted last time. He was there when they got relegated. He didn’t really play that much this season so I don’t think coming into the Premier League you’re going to look at Troy to keep you up. Of course, he serves as a talisman to get everybody going and be in and around the squad, unless Troy decides he wants to play more regularly and goes somewhere else to play. But I think they’ll have to do something else if they’re looking to stay up rather than looking for a talisman like Troy. He’s been a fantastic servant and a great player for them. As to the harmony and the togetherness, that’s probably where he’ll play a bigger role."

Keep tuned for more John Barnes content for BettingOdds.com as we lead up to Euro 2021 beginning on June 11th.

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