Date: 9th August 2008 at 9:44am
Written by:

The Sun say that Liverpool’s much loved American owners won’t stump up £18 million for Gareth Barry as they don’t agree with the valuation. Apparently Rafa ‘Tom-Jones-mini-me’ Benitez is ‘fuming and severely embarrassed’. I would be to with that goatee beard.

The Guardian say ‘Liverpool’s owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks, have risked sparking another internal feud at Anfield by refusing to back Rafael Benítez’s judgment on the £18m transfer of Gareth Barry. The farcical transfer saga was close to collapse last night, with the England international considering re-committing his future to Aston Villa..’ The paper goes on to say that Barry wants his future clear before the start of the season and as Liverpool appear to have left him in limbo, he might re-commit to Villa.

The Times go one further saying ‘Rafael Benitez`s relationship with Liverpool`s owners reached crisis point’ and that ‘Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr vetoed the manager`s bid to buy Gareth Barry but that the American duo had turned down an offer of a £12 million interest-free loan to help to buy the Aston Villa midfield player.’ They also claim that the owners won’t match the price because of Barry’s age and say he would have no sell on value, this comes following spending £20million on 28-year-old Robbie Keane from Spurs.

And whilst we are talking about Gareth Barry, Peter Cross has sent in this asking us to put the Barry saga into perspective. Must admit, I still hope he stays!

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Guys, can we please get this Barry saga into perspective? No one can possibly disagree that GB has been an exceptional servant and role model at Aston Villa for last ten years. He has been the regular first choice selection for no less than five Villa managers since his signing from Brighton, at the tender age of seventeen. Successive England managers (Keegan was the first) have always acclaimed his quality despite infrequent ‘call-ups’ to the national squad, principally because of the midfield dominance from the Top4 Clubs (particularly Chelsea and Liverpool). Three years ago, Manchester United fans voted him the player they would most like to see recruited into their squad.

Martin O’Neill arrived two years ago at the beginning of the much-publicised ‘revolution’ and soon recognised his potential and the influence he could have on team performance. He made him first team captain after his first year in charge, endorsed with a new three year contract worth £7mill (approx) over 3 years. Personally, I felt and subsequently argued on this site that the captain of a Club seeking to attract top players should have been paid at least twice this amount. General Krulak disagreed and venomously and publicly criticised me for saying this.

Martin O’Neill’s second season has just passed, seeing us again improve our league position. GB was, without doubt our ‘Captain Marvel’ resulting in him being paired regularly with SG in England’s midfield.

So far, so good – almost the stuff of ‘Boys Own’ but then, before even the new transfer window opens, it starts to go ‘pear-shaped’. No one knows for sure, precisely what precipitated GB’s outburst against Martin O’Neill. Clearly Liverpool acted improperly, possibly illegally by acting as they did; but with hindsight, I am sure that GB regrets what was said to the media. Was this bad advice or in fact, was it no advice from his agent? Whichever, he has been severely penalised. Both he and O`Neill are professionals, so that should be the end of it.

Clearly, we now know that the sole reason to leave VP is to play in the Champions League whilst at the peak of his career; and who can blame him for that. The lure of the extra wages that Liverpool are alleged to be offering is not an issue. Villa have offered a similar competitive package, albeit over 4 years and this does not appear to have dampened his desire to go.

Daily, it appears that Liverpool have “shot their bolt”. Perhaps Randy Lerner has been quietly and effectively working behind the scenes with his fellow Americans and all will now be quiet on that front. Other clubs may of course enter the arena and we all know who they might be.

There is no doubt in my humble opinion that Villa will be considerably weakened by his departure. He is a ‘class-act” and will be difficult to replace on the short term and Martin O’Neill knows this. I sincerely hope he stays and reaps the satisfaction of leading out the Villa team in the Champions League before he is much older. He will then be the legend we all want him to become.


Peter Cross