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EXCLUSIVE: Liverpool legend Barnes adamant transfer failings won't shape the season

Liverpool fans shouldn't look back on past misfirings in the transfer market, but instead look optimistically towards the future.

That is according to Reds legend John Barnes, who has spoken exclusively with Tribal Football.

The Merseyside club tried and failed to sign Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk in the summer after being reported to the FA for illegally 'tapping up' the player at the beginning of the transfer window.

Jurgen Klopp's side once again showed their defensive frailties in a 2-2 draw with Sevilla on Wednesday night, which followed their 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City on Saturday.

However, Barnes believes signing players isn't necessarily the key to success and supporters should feel positive about the way the team is currently constructed.

"People get carried away with signing players and get disappointed when they don't sign players," explained Barnes, who played over 300 games for the Reds.

"The fans love Jurgen Klopp, if they get players, they get players, if they don't get players they don't get players, and we continue on with the same plan.

"Obviously every January fans want six new players and at the end of season they want six new players, but that isn't the recipe for success, to just keep signing players.

"We didn't get the players we wanted to get but we move and be happy with the team we have and we're happy with the way things are going. Obviously the Manchester City loss was a setback until we went down to ten-men it was fairly even, so that was a blip."

Van Dijk spent the entire summer training away from the first-team after handing in a transfer request and publicly stating his desire to be sold.

Reports had linked the Dutchman with Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal, as well as Liverpool, but Barnes denies the Reds ever had a chance of prying the 26-year-old away from St. Mary's.

"They couldn't get Van Dijk because Southampton wouldn't release him," said the former England international. "Like how Barcelona couldn't get Coutinho no matter what they threw [at them], so you know, you can't be disappointed in clubs when they go for a player and they don't get him because the clubs are aren't willing to sell.

"They wanted van Dijk, they couldn't get him, there is nothing they could have done because Southampton weren't willing too sell and that's the end of it. We go with what we have. Of course, he would have been a good addition to the squad but we stay positive and move on."

Liverpool have had other problems over the summer, namely the futures of Emre Can and Philippe Coutinho.

Can has failed to negotiate a new contract, with his current deal expiring at the end of this season. The Germany international has been linked with a move to Juventus, while Coutinho failed to seal a move to Barcelona after handing in a transfer request last month.

Asked if he was surprised if Can hadn't re-signed with the club, Barnes said: "I don't know Emre Can. I don't know what he's been offered. But in terms of what he has done at Liverpool, maybe I am surprised because is he going to go on from Liverpool to a bigger club? I don't know. And I think Liverpool are a good club for him to be at.

"But he's decided not to sign, so once again, its about winning football matches, not worrying about if Emre Can is going to be here in January or next year. It's about worrying about the match on Saturday.

"We have to stop being so political about if and when rather than thinking about the weeks ahead or the coming months. Yes, he hasn't signed a new contract but he'll still give 100 percent when he plays for Liverpool, as will Coutinho so I'm not worried about what may happen in the future I'm more worried about the present."

Coutinho returned to action for the Reds on Wednesday night, replacing Can with fifteen minutes remaining in the match. His introduction was met with applause from the Liverpool fans. And Barnes believes the supporters will continue to back the Brazilian if Klopp believes he has the right attitude to play for the club.

"It will be easy because the fans trust Jurgen Klopp and if Jurgen Klopp puts him in the team he will perform," said Barnes when asked how Coutinho would reintegrate back into the club. "And as long as he plays with the right attitude, Liverpool fans will love him.

"In modern football, players ask for a transfer and want to go but what you have to do is when you stay you have to show the right attitude and I'm sure he will.

"Jurgen Klopp has got so much power with the fans and everybody [at the club], that if he says Coutinho is in the team and I trust him, he will be given the backing of the Liverpool fans, but of course, he has to show it in his performances in the games."

John Barnes, was speaking to Tribal Football on behalf of Bonus Code Bets.

Andrew Maclean
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Andrew Maclean

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