Glen Johnson on EA Sports FC player ratings, Chelsea's Top 4 chances & more
Glen Johnson enjoyed an impressive playing career with 366 club appearances and more than 50 England caps.
Turning out for West Ham, Chelsea, Portsmouth, Liverpool, and Stoke City, the veteran right back sat down with GGRecon to talk about what's going on at Chelsea, the potential for Mo Salah to move to Saudi Arabia, and those all-important EA Sports FC player ratings.
Are you excited to see what the new EA Sports FC game is like? Considering that it’s the first of its kind without the FIFA branding.
Which player do you believe should be the highest rated on EA Sports FC 24?
“I believe it should be Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappé. They should be the standout two in the game and should have the same rating in my opinion.”
In your opinion, which former teammate of yours was the best you’ve seen at playing the former FIFA franchise?
“Darren Bent. He was the one player that I can remember that was glued to it and he was late for training when he lost track of time playing the game. I would have to say that he was the best.”
Chelsea are being tipped with a January move for Brentford’s Ivan Toney, who is currently serving an eight-month ban. Do you believe he would be a success at one of the Premier League’s biggest clubs?
“It would obviously be a massive step up for Ivan in his career and he would be tested if he made that move. The first test for him was moving up to the Premier League from the Championship and still being able to score plenty of goals and he’s proven he can do that. However, there’s another big gap when it comes to scoring in the Premier League and scoring goals for one of the Premier League’s biggest clubs.
“There are question marks regarding whether Ivan could be a success at Chelsea, but I believe he’s capable of being one. I don’t believe anybody can say that he will 100 per cent be a success, but I believe he could be a risk worth taking in Chelsea’s case.
“There’s rumours that Brentford want £80 million for Ivan and that’s a lot to pay for a player that’s yet to play at the highest level. Brentford are just trying to make as much money as they can from any potential deal, but I do believe that’s a lot to ask for because there’s still question marks surrounding whether Ivan can replicate his successes for Brentford at a bigger club.”
Ollie Watkins is another forward reportedly under consideration by Chelsea’s recruitment team. Would he be a good fit for your former club?
“He’s a player that’s proven he can score goals in the Premier League but out of the Premier League striker's currently linked with a move to Chelsea, then I’d prefer it if they signed Ivan Toney because I believe he’s got a little bit more about him than Watkins. Toney would be better suited for Chelsea.”
According to reports, Chelsea considered a late summer swoop for in-form Nottingham Forest forward Taiwo Awoniyi. Do you believe he’s a striker with the capabilities of playing for a club of Chelsea’s stature?
“Definitely not at the moment. He’s not going to walk into a club like Chelsea and become their number nine, that’s for sure. Could he in the future? I don’t quite know. I’m not trying to be disrespectful to him, but at this moment he’s miles off playing for a club like Chelsea. There’s a big difference between playing well for Nottingham Forest and playing well for one of the top teams in the Premier League. He looks like he has the potential to develop even more and become good enough to play for a top side in a couple of years, but Chelsea need a striker now.”
According to the press, Chelsea’s main striker target for the summer of 2024 is Napoli’s Victor Osimhen. Is he the best signing your former club could realistically make in that area of the team?
“Yes, I believe he is. This signing would be realistic and he’s already played for a top team like Napoli, where he won the Serie A title last season. He would potentially cost less than somebody like Ivan Toney because buying players from other Premier League clubs is super expensive. The player would definitely want to come to Chelsea in my opinion and I believe it’s a realistic deal for them to secure.”
There’s speculation in the press suggesting that Enzo Fernández is already ‘seriously considering’ leaving Stamford Bridge, despite only joining Chelsea in January, because the standard of football has been at a lesser level than he would have expected it to be. If Chelsea fail to qualify for the Champions League again next season, do you believe a number of the club’s top stars may want out of Stamford Bridge?
“All the best players want to play in the Champions League and you usually sign for a club like Chelsea because you expect them to play in the Champions League. You can understand why the players have this expectancy to play in that competition but at the same time, Chelsea aren’t in the Champions League because of their players. For that reason, I don’t believe they can necessarily throw their toys out of the pram and demand to leave.
“I’m not suggesting that Enzo wants to leave Chelsea but if there’s any truth to the rumours stating that he wants to leave, then he’s basically saying that his teammates aren’t good enough. Chelsea need all their big players to pull them along and get them back into the Champions League for next season and if they miss out then yes, a couple of them will want to get out and a couple of them will get out. If the players want to play in the Champions League that badly, then they’re going to have to put in some better performances.”
Roméo Lavia continues to remain on the sidelines after Chelsea signed him for £53 million in August. Will this period out injured make it even more difficult for Roméo to make an impact at Stamford Bridge this season? Is this the worst possible beginning he could have imagined?
“100 per cent, yes. The start of the season is so important, especially when you’re a new player and even more so when you’re a young player because at the moment, Roméo doesn’t have a big enough reputation to walk straight into Chelsea’s team once he’s fit. His teammates don’t know what he’s capable of yet, so he needs to get himself fit and go out there and win their respect.
“If you’re a 28-year-old player and you’ve joined from a club like Real Madrid then even if you’re injured when you arrive, you’ve already walked in with respect but when you’re a kid, nobody knows if you’re good enough. The older players will want to test you and see if you’ve got the mental strength to make it at the club.
“The start is so important and for a player like Roméo to come in with an injury, and be out for even longer than expected, it's literally the worst start he would have imagined.”
What do you believe that Mykhailo Mudryk needs to do to turn around his fortunes at Stamford Bridge?
“I believe he needs to be a lot more aggressive if he’s to start improving his level of performance. I don’t mean that I want him to be physically aggressive, I want him to keep pushing defenders back every time when you consider how quick and direct he is. He’s capable of blitzing any defender and sometimes I believe that he plays against his attributes. If you’re that quick, you should always be looking to take someone on a one-on-one or do something productive so that the fans can get behind you. When that happens, he may be able to find some confidence and he can hopefully grab a few more goals and assists.
“I do believe that the clock’s ticking for him because everybody talks about him every single week and I feel sorry for him because it’s not easy when you go to a big club, especially with the expectations that Mykhailo’s had on his shoulders. Ultimately, I do believe that he has the attributes to turn it around but he’s got to do it quickly.”
According to speculation in Spain, Reece James wants to join Real Madrid next summer. Do you believe these rumours? Can you see Reece wanting that move at some point in the future? Do you believe he will want that move next summer considering that he’s only recently been made Chelsea’s first-team captain?
“Maybe Chelsea made him captain because of Real Madrid’s interest in him. Any player’s going to be interested in joining Real Madrid and anybody who says they’re not are lying. I’m not necessarily saying that I believe Reece wants to leave the club, but I believe he would be interested in the move because the Galácticos wanting you is a very flattering thing.
“Reece obviously loves Chelsea and I believe it would be a very tough decision for him to leave. If the club wants to compete with the best teams in the world, then you can’t allow your best players to move to Real Madrid.”
Do you believe Malo Gusto is Reece James’ long-term successor at Chelsea and are the club in good hands if Reece was to depart in the next couple of years?
“It’s a bit too early to say. From what I’ve seen of him, he’s very technically gifted and quick, but I’ve not seen enough of him to say that if Reece James left Chelsea in the near future, that Malo would seamlessly fill the void. You see a lot of players come to the Premier League, play ten games and you never see them again, so you can never predict what’s going to happen. However, it looks like Malo has a lot of potential but is he going to be the next Reece? Time will tell. Right now, he certainly looks as if he’s going to be a good player.”
So far, how would you rate Todd Boehly’s time as Chelsea owner?
“I know he’s come in for a lot of criticism but in all fairness, the club was a mess. The main criticism I have regarding the new owners is that they’ve changed too much too soon but on the plus side, Todd’s certainly put his money where his mouth is. All the changes that I’ve been critical of will probably work out in the long run, but I believe it’s had a massive impact on the club’s performances in the short term. There’s been a massive changeover in playing staff, and coaching staff and he’s effectively turned the club inside out. However, I do believe his heart is in the right place but I don’t believe he’s really considered what the managers have wanted in terms of their specific transfer demands.”
Do you believe Jordan Henderson was being truthful when he claimed that his move to Saudi Arabia wasn’t motivated by money and instead it was because he felt that Liverpool, and their manager Jürgen Klopp, didn’t make him feel wanted anymore?
“Bloody hell, of course the money was a major factor. He’s not gone there for the standard of football and if it wasn’t about money, then he would have gone somewhere else. James Milner moved to Brighton at 37 years of age, so there would have been many clubs that would have wanted Jordan this summer in Europe. However, Al-Ettifaq wanted him and paid him an absolute fortune so you can’t blame him for going, but I do believe that money was a huge, huge motivator.”
Would you be surprised if Mohamed Salah made the move to Saudi Arabia in January?
“I could see it happening. Mo’s not going to be able to always perform at the same levels that he has been doing over the past few years and if Liverpool can cash in for huge money for a 31-year-old, then it would be difficult for the club to turn down. The same goes for Mo because he will find it difficult to turn down the money that’s on offer for him. January could be the perfect time for Liverpool to cash in because if Mo’s interested in the move then they can make an enormous amount of money for a player that’s in his thirties.”
If Mo was to leave in either January or next summer, should Liverpool go all in for Kylian Mbappé? Do you think there’s any chance that this move could happen?
“At some point, Liverpool will have to try and compete for these world-class talents. Manchester City went out and busted a gut to get Erling Haaland, so every so often when these superstars become available, then you need to make an attempt at signing them. There will be major competition for Kylian from the biggest European clubs and Saudi clubs and I know we all praise Liverpool for their statistical approach to transfers, but sometimes you just need to try and go out and sign the best player.
“I don’t know if Kylian would be interested in going to Liverpool and for me personally, I can’t see him making the move to the Premier League at any point during his career. When you look at the trajectory of salaries on offer and things like that, then you can’t see a team like Liverpool offering Mbappé £400,000 to £500,000 a week, but the Saudi clubs would. All the top clubs will want him and I believe that will drive his price up and the package to secure his signature will be astronomical. I believe he has a huge move in him, but I don’t know where he’ll move to.”
According to Spanish publication AS, Liverpool made a £100 million move for Newcastle United’s Bruno Guimarães in the final few days of the summer transfer window. How much would you have loved to have seen that move happen? Do you believe Liverpool should go back in for the Brazil international next summer?
“Absolutely because I really like him. He’s been a key player for Newcastle United and he’s got an awful lot about him, so I can understand why Liverpool would want to sign him because he’s proven himself already at this level. I think all parties would be happy if Liverpool could sign him for £100 million.”
Liverpool and Manchester City are said to both be interested in making a move for West Ham United defender Nayef Aguerd next summer. Do you believe he’s a player that’s destined to play for one of the Premier League’s top clubs?
“In certain games, he looks like a top player but in other games, it doesn’t look as if that’s the case. To play for one of the biggest clubs as a defender, then you need to be really good on the ball because you’re going to have the ball 80 per cent of the time, so it’s not all about defending. You need to be technically gifted and comfortable in possession, so despite how good a defender he is, I’m not sure if he’s good enough with the ball to play for one of the Premier League’s best clubs.”
Liverpool are said to be interested in making a move for Bournemouth captain Lloyd Kelly. Would this be a smart move by your former club?
“It’s good to build your squad and I know I’ve previously said that once in a blue moon you should break the bank for certain players but signing defenders with the potential that Lloyd has, for a deal that’s sensible financially, could be very smart business for Liverpool as they need to continue to build for the next couple of years.”
Manchester City reportedly want to sign Brighton forward Evan Ferguson. Should either of your two former clubs, Chelsea and Liverpool, hijack that deal if Manchester City were to make the move?
“They should at least try, for sure. He’s a young kid that’s burst on the scene and is scoring goals in the Premier League, which is obviously a very tough thing to do. Evan will have a better chance at getting into either Chelsea or Liverpool’s team than he would Manchester City’s if he decided to make the move there. I believe Chelsea and Liverpool will have their eyes on Evan already because young goalscorers in the Premier League don’t come around that often, so you can completely understand why the big guns will have their eyes on him.”
Do you still believe your former club Chelsea will still finish in the top four?
“I’m taking Tottenham more seriously now than I did at the start of the season, but it’s too early for me to change my mind because we’re only four games in and sometimes teams take a bit of time to get going. There are six teams that can get in the top four in my opinion, but I believe the final four will be Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal.”
Which Premier League team has impressed you most in the opening four fixtures and which team has disappointed you the most?
“For most impressive, I’m going to have to say West Ham. It’s still very early in the season but they’ve sold Declan Rice and I did expect them to struggle, but their performances are suggesting they won’t and that’s despite the fact that I believe they have a weaker squad than last season.
“For least impressive, I’m going to say Manchester United. You can understand why Chelsea have started slow because of all the changes they’ve had but Manchester United haven’t had to go through all that, so you would have expected a better start from them.”
Which Premier League manager do you believe is currently under the most pressure?
“Erik ten Hag. I wouldn’t say his job’s at risk but he needs to turn it around quickly because of the pressure that comes with being Manchester United manager.”