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Football Insights - David James

Football Insights - David James

With the European domestic leagues decided, the attention turns to the season finale on Saturday night when Liverpool and Real Madrid clash in the final of the Champions League. With the League Cup and the FA Cup already in the bag, Jurgen Klopp's men are chasing the treble and revenge following their loss to the same opposition in the 2017/18 final. Former Liverpool keeper David James gives his verdict exclusively to Genting Casino ahead of the highly anticipated clash.


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It’s in Salah and Mane’s DNA to leave clubs, but I’d love them to retire at Liverpool

“With Salah, I’d like to think Salah stays at Liverpool [and ignores Real Madrid’s interest]. He’s won the Golden Boot again and I’d want him to stay because he’s a massive contributor to Liverpool’s success. There comes a point in every player’s career, and with Salah and Mane, who have travelled all over the world, it’s in their DNA to move on at some point. When is the right time? I’d like to think he’d get a new contract at Liverpool, he’s a legend at Liverpool and a legend in football - and what better place to finish your career?

“Both Salah and Mane have been required at different stages of the season. It’s a great team, it’s not about just one individual. Where Liverpool were failing was when the onus was on one individual to get the team out of trouble, whereas now, you can talk about Alisson, Van Dijk, Henderson, Thiago, Salah and Mane - everyone is chipping in. Again, the two of them are travellers in a footballing sense, therefore it wouldn’t be surprising to see them leave, but I’d like to think they’d want to stay and see their careers out at Liverpool.”

 

There’s something about this Liverpool team, they will beat Real Madrid in the Champions League final

“The one thing that’s striking about Liverpool is they’ve come from behind four times in the last five games, which compared to the rest of the season is crazy.

Now, they’re playing Real Madrid, who made it to the final on the back of being down and coming back to win, so whoever is leading with 15 minutes to go needs to remember the team they’re playing against are pretty good at coming back to win games. If I was a betting man, I wouldn’t be betting on winners, I’d be betting on over 3.5 goals!

“I would go for 2-2 with extra-time. Who would win it? There’s something about Liverpool this season. I’m going for Liverpool, simply because they’ve lost three games all season, so this isn’t a side that loses.”

 

This Liverpool team will be on par with Man United’s 1999 treble winners if they beat Real Madrid

“Which team is better? That’s like trying to compare Messi and Ronaldo with Pele - it was a different era with a different way of playing football. The similarity would be the belief that these teams have got, the belief that they were never beaten, the belief that they had the quality and skill to win games when everyone thought they’d lose. They both deserve to be in the same position. If Liverpool beat Real Madrid then they’d both be on the same pedestal.”

 

There are parts of Man City-bound Erling Haaland’s game that need to considerably improve

“You could argue Haaland will improve Man City’s situation when it comes to the Champions League. There are bits around Haaland’s performance that need to considerably improve. He’s a fantastic goalscorer, without question, but it’s the way he scores goals that needs to be improved. It’s where he scores goals that need to be improved, he scores most of his goals at home. 

“When you think about the Champions League and the crunch matches that aren’t at home, there will be areas for improvement. He’s 21 and under Pep, you could argue he’ll become better. If he becomes better then, of course, Man City will be in a better place to win the Champions League.”

 

I can’t understand why Gabriel Jesus would want to leave Man City to join Arsenal

“If you look at Man City players’ appearances this season, Bernardo Silva and Rodri have played 30-plus Premier League games, but all the players in that attacking line-up have played around 25 games, so they’re not playing every week. Pep’s rotation has worked perfectly in the sense that they won the Premier League again. I’d imagine Haaland would fit into that mold, he’s not going to play every game. Also, with his injuries, there are question marks over whether he is physically capable of playing all the games. 

“That being said, Jesus will have a shared role if he stays at Manchester City. This isn’t a buy-a-player-and-use-him-all-the-time situation, so there is still room for Jesus and why would he want to leave? You’ve got the best team in England over the past five years, so would he risk it by moving somewhere else to Arsenal, who aren’t even in the Champions League, or would he rather stay at Man City and try to get the Holy Grail, which is the Champions League?”

 

Declan Rice should forget about Man United and move to Man City as Fernandinho’s replacement

“The West Ham fan in me wants Declan Rice to stay there forever, we want to see scenes like Mark Noble leaving West Ham at the London Stadium. There’s talk about Manchester United, but the way Declan Rice plays, he could play Fernandinho’s role at Man City. If he had a choice of Man City or Man United, it’s a no-brainer, you go to Man City. He’s a fantastic player, he’s young, it looks like he wants to learn, he’s a regular England international, he ticks all the boxes for a team challenging for titles as opposed to one challenging for Europa League spots.”

 

It would be questionable if Liverpool tried to sign Jarrod Bowen this summer

“This season he’s been fantastic. With regards to the recruitment, Liverpool would be looking at more than just a one-season hit. If Bowen is a legitimate target for this summer’s transfer window then that would be questionable, but if he was to continue this kind of form, then I’m sure Liverpool will keep tabs on him. Like the signing of Diaz, he wasn’t the first name on people's radar. He’s come in, proved he’s a Liverpool player and then they go and get the signing. With Liverpool, loads of players are going to be linked and I’d imagine most of the time it’s agents linking them rather than a club pursuing them, but Bowen will definitely be on Liverpool’s radar.”

 

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