Not everyone can say they’re a FA Cup, Champions League, and Bundesliga champion, but one that can is Dietmar ‘Didi’ Hamann. The former German defensive midfielder has received 59 caps for his national team, alongside featuring over 280 times in the Premier League.
We spoke with the former player/manager on footballers gaming, Jude Bellingham’s next spot, other potential signings, and more.
During your football career, were there any instances where gaming was seen as a problem? There have been numerous examples where a player has been cautioned for excessive gaming and it having an impact on their training. Have you ever been aware of that being seen as a problem?
Not from my experience. As with everything, you can’t control a player 24/7 and I don’t see it as a problem. You can do anything excessively and I just don’t think excessive gaming is a problem. There are many things you can do excessively as I said, but it’s down to the player. It’s their responsibility and they’ve got to know that if they get paid, they’ve got to be prepared to play their best and train their best and if something does happen, it’s up to the club to sanction that.
These days we see teams such as PSG and Manchester City involved in the professional gaming scene. Do you think football clubs and individual footballers getting involved in the esports scene is good for their image?
Yes, if the big clubs invest and start esports divisions. In Germany there are a few who do a similar thing and a lot of Bundesliga clubs these days have esports teams that compete professionally. They all invest, and it can only be good for them because they get more coverage. I understand the appeal of the esports industry, it’s a fast-growing business.
Jude Bellingham is reportedly Liverpool’s major transfer target for next summer. He’s also reportedly the priority target for Real Madrid. Bellingham’s shown he’s not scared to play abroad. So if it came down to a choice between the two clubs, who do you believe he’d choose?
We’ve seen a few players like Jadon Sancho who have gone to Germany and come back to England. There are not too many English players that do go abroad. I think something that would help them more is if one or two more players played abroad to gain experience and learn the culture of different football. I’m not too sure whether Jude would pick Real Madrid or Liverpool because he’s very settled.
I was on a show last night with the director of Borussia Dortmund and he said that he would be here for the season 100%. He said Jude was so settled that he wouldn’t put it past him if he is here for another year. Obviously, if Liverpool come calling next season it will be very hard to keep him, but it’s personal preference. They are two of the biggest clubs in the world and if he goes to Liverpool then maybe he thinks that was his only chance to go to Madrid, or maybe if he goes to Madrid he thinks that was his last chance to go to Liverpool. He’s certainly a player that will improve both teams.
You once described Thiago Alcantara as ‘one of the most overrated players in Europe’. Considering Liverpool’s current injuries in midfield, do you believe they’re missing his presence? Are you still of the belief that he’s overrated?
The comment came courtesy of him being picked for the team of the season last season. He started 17 Premier League games last season and he started less than half of the games and I don’t think he should be considered for the team of the season if he started less than half of the games. I have said he is a very good player and he’s easy on the eye, but when you actually see what he does, I think last year he scored one or two goals and played 35-40 games. He’s not really a player who scores. I understand that he’s a fan favourite but I think perception and reality are far apart because if you look at this season, the fact of the matter is that he’s not played.
I think he played a half or 50 minutes against Fulham and got injured. Players can only help you when they play. He’s always had injuries throughout his Liverpool career and if you want to consider a starter for your team, you’ve got to average 70% to 80% of the games for your team and he simply doesn’t do it. Of course, when he comes back he’ll help them because they have a problem in midfield even though they scored a lot on Saturday.
He’s got too many injuries, therefore he can’t help the team as much as he should do and that’s why I made that comment at that time. The fact that his fellow professionals got him in the team of the season backs up my point because I don’t think they’re aware of how little he plays.
As a former Liverpool and Bayern Munich midfielder, we want to talk to you about Sadio Mané. How much do you believe Liverpool are missing him? Do you believe that the acquisition of Darwin Núñez was a solid enough replacement in Liverpool’s front three? Do you believe Luis Díaz out on the left-hand side can eventually reach the heights that Mané reached during his time at Anfield?
Luis Díaz is the replacement for Sadio Mané. They must have moved for him in January knowing that Mané may not be at the club this season. I’m not too sure if Díaz can average the numbers that Mané was getting at Anfield. He’s a very capable player and has been a good buy for Liverpool. Núñez gives Liverpool a different dimension because he’s powerful, he’s a good header of the ball but unlike Roberto Firmino, Núñez doesn’t want to bring others into play as he wants to finish the chances himself. He will score goals but I don’t know if the team will function as well with him as it did before. Centre-forwards who score 20 to 25 goals a season don’t grow on trees.
Erling Haaland’s has started his Manchester City career with six goals in his first four Premier League matches. Is Haaland your favourite for the Premier League Golden Boot? If not, who is?
It will be between him and Harry Kane. Kane had a slow start last season but ended the campaign with 27 goals in all competitions and 17 in the Premier League. I do believe that Manchester City will create more chances for Erling Haaland than Tottenham will create for Harry Kane. Erling however is more injury prone than Harry and he suffered a number of muscle injuries in Germany last season. If he’s out for six to eight weeks then that will affect the race for the Golden Boot. I’m going to ultimately say that Kane will win the Golden Boot this season as he’ll play more games than Erling. Harry’s pretty solid fitness wise and has only had a couple of bad injuries but they’re two very exciting players who have made great starts to the season. For Erling, scoring six goals already in a new team is impressive regardless of who the team is.
Man City have raised £174m in the biggest summer sale in Premier League history after flogging Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling and Oleksandr Zinchenko. Could this activity come back and bite them? Which of the three do you think they should have kept hold of?
Zinchenko was a really important squad player for Manchester City and he could always be relied on. He’s a very consistent player. When Gabriel Jesus started games for Manchester City then his goal scoring record was mighty impressive. Raheem had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Manchester City as Pep Guardiola wanted to get rid of him.
I believe Manchester City will miss all three of them because they’re three brilliant players. We know the firepower that Manchester City possess but defensively they’ve looked shaky. Against Newcastle United, it was one of the first times I thought they didn’t have control of the game for 40 to 50 minutes. That happens very rarely. Regarding the three players they’ve let go, unfortunately you can’t play for Manchester City every week, but they’ll all be missed.
Considering that Liverpool have already dropped points three times this season, has this influenced who you believe will win the Premier League this season? Arsenal are the only team so far with a 100% record.
Manchester City started as favourites and I believe they will remain favourites. Liverpool are five points behind them now and we know how hard it is to make points up on Manchester City. I think both sides need to be aware of Tottenham. Arsenal have had spells in the past where they didn’t win for three or four games and that doesn’t usually happen to Liverpool and Manchester City, so I believe Tottenham will be more of a threat to them than Arsenal.
Anthony Gordon continues to push for a move to Chelsea. Do you believe he will get gametime if he makes the move? Would he be better off staying at Everton? And what do you make of the £60 million offer from Chelsea for a relatively unproven player?
Well I’ve seen how much Manchester United are paying for Antony and you see players going for large amounts at the end of the transfer window. There’s a hint of desperation about it. Anthony Gordon is an exciting player and he was one of the few who played well last season. I think he will get game time if he makes the move to Chelsea and I do believe he’s aware that things aren’t going well at Everton just now. He will need a few weeks or a few months to settle in but I believe he would be a really good player for Chelsea.
Manchester United are on the verge of signing Ajax’s Antony for €95 million + add ons. Do you believe that’s a ridiculous amount for a player without any Premier League experience and two years of Eredivisie experience under his belt?
Yes I do believe it’s a ridiculous amount of money to pay for him. I can see the £60 million for Anthony Gordon making more sense than £84 million for Antony. If you look at the players that have left Ajax in recent years, you have Matthijs de Ligt who failed at Juventus, Barcelona want to get rid of Frenkie de Jong and Donny van de Beek went to Manchester United and was offloaded to Everton and didn’t even play at Everton. Hakim Ziyech also has failed at Chelsea. All these players coming from Ajax have failed. I know Erik ten Hag has previously coached Antony, but that’s something that sticks in the back of my mind.