Date: 16th August 2008 at 9:35am
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So what is in the press today?

Well, the Daily Mirror claim that Kevin Keegan has rejected a £9million bid from Villa for James Milner.

Meanwhile Randy Lerner has been telling the press that he would be delighted if Gareth Barry stays and is sure the Villa fans will give him a great reception. The Villa owner said: ‘You can quote me all day long that I would be delighted if Gareth stays. He’s a lovely guy and a great player. We understand Champions League football is a big attraction to someone like him and the crowd understands that, too.’

Meanwhile in the Daily Mail, amongst others, John Carew says he has extended his stay at Villa because he is excited by our prospects and also believes that Liverpool are the weakest of the top four and the team Villa should be gunning for. Carew said: ‘Our goal is to even better than sixth this season. It looks as though the squad is bigger than last year and at one stage last season we were close to Liverpool, so there is no reason for us not to believe that we can’t reach the top four. To reach the top four we are going to have to do better than Liverpool. That’s my belief and I hope it is the belief of everyone at the club.’

He also told The Sun: ‘All the boys love Gareth and want him to stay.’

According to the Daily Mirror Arsenal are in talks with Liverpool to try to buy Xabi Alonso, which was – according to summer long reports – the sale that was holding up the Barry sale. Surely that has now been put to bed with Barry being cup tied? Some rumours suggest Barry has put a deadline on any move himself, that being 3pm on Sunday when we kick off against Manchester City because he wants to be fully focussed on his season.

The Daily Star and Daily Mirror claim that Rafael Benitez was thinking about quitting Liverpool as he feels his judgement on players has been questioned by the owners. Apparently he was talked out of it by friends. He has also made it clear that the Barry saga is not his fault and points the finger (not sure if it is the middle one or not) at chief exec Rick Parry The Tom-Jones-Mini-Me said: ‘Some people seem to blame me for everything, from global warming to petrol prices. So I want to make things clear over what has happened between us and Aston Villa. I talked to Martin O’Neill about Barry in April but have not spoken to anyone at Aston Villa since.’

He continues his rant ‘All the talks have been between our chief executive Rick Parry, the owner and the chief executive of Aston Villa. And those talks have all been pretty good. So if anyone wants to talk about Barry in the future they must talk with the owner, Rick Parry or the chief executive of Aston Villa. And as I have said, those talks I understand have been good. I was not involved in the talks about Barry, I was not involved in the talks about (Xabi) Alonso and Arsenal. If you want to talk about these players you must talk to the chief executive of our club who was handling the discussions. If you want to talk about players, then you talk to Rick Parry. If you want to talk about football, then you talk with me.’

Ooooooh, get her! Why why why, Benitez, la la la la la la la laaaaa (Sorry, that is my best Tom Jones impression!)