Barry-Mania Into Overdrive
You never knew Gareth Barry was the 6th member of the Beatles did you, but he must be given the renewed press interest in his 'move' to Liverpool.
As we all know, last season Martin O'Neill said categorically that if Villa failed to secure Champions League football this season Gareth Barry would be allowed to leave to achieve his European aims. Barry was asked to give us one more season, which seemed like a good choice given the fact Liverpool failed to meet our valuation of him.
So having slipped from 4th, to 5th and with one game left most likely finishing 6th, O'Neill has restated that he will not stand in Barry's way if he wishes to leave and join a club in the Champions League.
Our 28 year old, former 'proper' captain has only one year left on his contract, but it appears O'Neill is happy for him to run his contract down as he has no intentions of letting Barry leave for a club outside of the Top 4.
Speaking to BBC Radio WM yesterday, the gaffer said:
'We would like him to stay but we understand that he's been at the club for 11 years.
'If someone came in with the offer of the Champions League, then that's something that we would look at.
'Even if he ran his contract down I don't think that's something that would concern us greatly and that might show that we would like him to stay.
'It's not a matter of us wanting to cash in because he's in his final year. If he said he was going to run it down and see it through, I would be delighted.'
Now I'm sure there are plenty of mind games at play here, O'Neill will no doubt honour his promise to allow him to leave should Liverpool come knocking again but there are no reasons whatsoever to allow him to leave should Spurs or Man City come knocking as the rumours would suggest.
If Liverpool or Arsenal, who are the main two candidates, aren't interested the outcome I can see is a nice bumper contract for Barry. I don't for one second see that we would allow him to leave on Bosman.
With all that said though, O'Neill is making enough rumblings in the press that 'should' Barry be allowed to leave it will certainly not be on the cheap.
Speaking in todays Express and Star O'Neill acknowledged that with only a year left on his contract Villa will have to reduce last summers valuation of £18 million but the club will still demand top dollar for the midfielder.
"I`m sure that with a year left to run the price would be different but, by the same token, he probably won`t come cheaply in this day and age.
"Gareth and his agents are pretty happy on the things we have talked about and we would like him to stay here.
"I want him to stay at the football club. I would be really pleased if that`s the case. If he sees the year out I would still be really happy with that.'
The most likely valuation would be around the £12 million mark which is what Liverpool were prepared to pay last season.
However, going back to the mind games O'Neill didn't miss his opportunity to get in another dig about how much Liverpool 'may' desire the player.
"One of the disappointing aspects for Gareth was that Liverpool were claiming they could only afford this certain sort of money and then spent £20m on Robbie Keane almost overnight."
Moreover we all know how Robbie Keane turned out for them don't we.