O’Neill says Barry deal is in Liverpool’s hands

Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill is standing firm in his valuation of midfielder Gareth Barry, but is finding that Liverpool are too. Villa value the player at £18m, a figure close to what Liverpool paid for Fernando Torres a year ago, and Liverpool quite bluntly don’t value him at that level. Villa have also more or less run out of bridges to burn with the player, having banned him from pre-season training, banned him from all Villa property, fined him two weeks wages and made it clear he won’t be going on their pre-season training camp. This is their club captain, who himself can’t be accused of having stepped out of line at all in the time since Liverpool’s interest was first made public.

That interest was first made public by Martin O’Neill, who had a rant about Liverpool leaking their first bid, of £10m, to the local press on Merseyside. In reality the leak had not come from Liverpool at all, but O’Neill continued his angry response to the interest via the media. Patrik Berger, already set to leave in the summer with his contract at an end, was sent packing early for saying that he thought a move to Anfield would be good for Barry. O’Neill discussed the saga regularly in the papers, and then continued to talk about it on the TV as part of his summer job with the BBC.

O’Neill probably feels he can get one over on Liverpool in the style he did with Emile Heskey when he was boss at Leicester. Liverpool memorably paid an extra £2m for Heskey in 2000, in the days before transfer windows, to get the players’ services in March rather than wait until the summer. O’Neill claimed he had tried hard to retain Heskey, but he did eventually let him go for £11m.

He said at the time: “We as a club did everything we could to persuade Emile to stay with us for as long as possible, but it was his insistence that the deal had to go through before this weekend. The club had been negotiating terms which we felt would keep him here, really pushing the boat out to show how much we valued him as a player with us. But apparently it was not enough. I believe our players will be as bitterly disappointed as I am at Emile’s decision, coming as it does when we have just won a trophy, are looking towards Europe and had put together the strongest squad in the club’s history.”

For all the suggestions in that statement that Heskey had shown a lack of loyalty, four months later O’Neill resigned from Leicester himself, despite having just won a trophy, looking towards Europe and putting together “the strongest squad in the club’s history”. He joined Celtic instead.

Little seems to have changed, in that he made similar noises about Barry, although it’s unlikely any other clubs will be looking for his services as coach this summer. He has now, rather than accept that he may have messed up his hopes of getting a higher price for Barry, decided to send a letter to Anfield.

According to reports the price he is demanding for a player he can’t use again remains at £18m, and although he has now decided he would accept Steve Finnan as part of that deal, he only values Finnan at £1m. Rafa values Barry at under £15m, and Finnan at £2m, meaning there remains a gap.

O’Neill was full of himself again when discussing the deal publicly: “Liverpool have come back to us and we have responded to their proposal with a letter. We’re still waiting to hear back from Liverpool after putting that proposal to them.”

Failing to see that Liverpool will eventually switch to other targets, or just forget the deal completely, he said: “It’s really up to Liverpool. I really don’t know how it’s going to work out at the moment. I’m sure there will be some sort of resolution at some stage or another.”

Villa seem to be extremely low on funds, having been unable to find a shirt sponsor for next season and so instead deciding to give the space away to a charity for the season. The manager needs as much money from Liverpool as possible so he can improve his squad. They’ve already made it clear they can’t afford the £10m fee they had agreed for Scott Carson at the outset of his loan, and are interested in Finnan at their cut-price valuation after losing the player they had been using in that position. If Liverpool did pull out of the deal, O’Neill’s plans for the summer would be in ruins.

One of those plans is for the signing of Steve Sidwell, and at least that one seems likely to go through, with reports claiming his £5.5m switch from Chelsea will be finalised this week. But Villa are short on numbers, with one report claiming only 13 recognised first team players were available for their pre-season visit to Switzerland. Little wonder that O’Neill is trying to force so much money from Anfield. He claimed it was all in hand: “We need players and we know what we have to do. We’re continuing to work on other deals.”

Carson could find himself playing for Stoke next season, according to some reports, but it seems that the newly promoted side’s more genuine interest is in Moroccan youngster Nabil El Zhar.

The traditional summer speculation seems to be driving Liverpool’s Israeli international Yossi Benayoun mad. He said: “It seems the media in Israel and England are in a contest to see who’s more bored during the slow summer months. The media in England published a story that Rafael Benitez told me finally that I’m staying at Liverpool. These reports are the work of the writer’s imagination because, even before the season ended, we determined that I would be staying.”

It sounds like it’s a special relationship between the little guy and his boss: “I have very good chemistry with Benitez. He loves me. He bought me. I really enjoy being with him, moreover, I had an excellent season. I even surprised myself.”

And he says Rafa won’t even listen to offers: “Benitez didn’t want to hear and isn’t prepared to hear about any possibility of letting me go at any price. Liverpool is good for me and it was always clear I want to stay and Liverpool wants me. I got better offers financially but these tempting offers don’t change my mind.”

65 thoughts on “O’Neill says Barry deal is in Liverpool’s hands”

  1. I find the whole transfer amusing really Liverpool now desperately need to buy Barry because if they don;t it will make look even further away from being a top three club.
    If Arsenal, Man U or Chelsea want a player they pay there money and get him and don;t rely on haggling in public and scratching around to raise the money

  2. @ Edward & Copite999

    Please don’t mistake me for a bitter Villa fan – I am disappointed but I do understand why Barry wants to go & why Liverpool is a better option for him right now, @ 28 years old.

    But please look around you – the damage to Rafa’s reputation is already being done and being reported upon as per my previous post. You are quite right – £18m for Barry is way over his asking price and he is widely seen as foolish for getting himself in this position – he could have got him much cheaper.

    Now if he doesn’t buy, he will be viewed as a manager who acted badly, unsettled another teams key player and then pulled out of the deal. If he buys he will be seen as paying over the odds because of his clumsy style. And all for a player who won’t improve you that much above what you have in your squad already.

    I think this years Liverpool transfer activity as a whole will be viewed as short term. Liverpool have got a good squad and will be very competitive this season – but he is not building a squad for the future. We are, we will compete with you this season and be even stronger while you get weaker. Rafa’s has a real dilemma because MON doesn’t need to sell and won’t back down.

    After all this I wish you the best for the up coming season.

  3. @panchovilla Rafa needs to sell because we have a load of shit in the squad such as Pennant and Riise. To say that Rafa has not bought for the future is complete bollocks, he has Babel, Leva and Torres and a few stars in the reserves and the youth set up. If you look at all succsefull teams they all have mature players in to add a bit of balance to the squad. I am sorry to point out to you but your claims that we will fall behind you because we are going to get weaker is complete nonsense and if you believe that then you are very misguided. We will get stronger as the seasons go on, we are being linked with David Villa as well as Robbie Keane so I do not see where you can make such wiode of the mark claims.

  4. panchovilla,
    I beg to differ on your analysis of the health of LFC, because I find that it ignores the sustained development of youth talent since Rafa’s arrival. Also (don’t mean to rub it in but….) our reserves are national champions and beat Villa 3-0 in the final in May. A side that contained your first team fringe players such as Taylor, Osbourne, Salifou, Routledge, Harewood, & Maloney


    Anyway, to your credit you’ve shown a lot more goodwill on this site than any other Villa posters, so I respect you for that and have no problem agreeing to disagree!

  5. @ panchovilla,

    I was about to pile in and deliver a few metaphorical blows on how LFC is building for the future but i see a few others have done that for me.

    One of the great things about Jim Boardman’s site is that it’s very informative and, while you may not agree with his views, allows us to weigh up the argument….so long as we don’t get personal.

    Today, you Villans, a few snide remarks apart, have been great.

    If I may so on Jim’s behalf, you’re welcome back any time!

    But in the meantime, please please tell MON to hold on for £25m for Barry. I can’t see why we need him over Alonso. And, on that basis, unless we make enough money on him to cover Barry and more, we don’t need Mr. Barry, as good a player as he is.

    MON needs to calm down, by the way. He’ll lose alot of respect from not just LFC fans if he doesn’t. How unnecessary!

  6. Replies re Babel, Torres et al all accepted.

    ‘pool being linked with David Villa though is risible, (sorry that means silly). We’ve been linked with a host of top players we have no hope of signing because, as you all so delicately state, the Inter Toto has slightly less pull than the Champions League. I doubt if David Villa will come to you if only because you don’t have the cash.

    Which brings me back to my main points, this summers transfer window marks a big departure to your previous purchases. There really is no serious likelihood of you spending on players of a calibre higher than GB because, although you have a great brand and CL football, Rafa clearly doesn’t have the cash.

    Out of all the English Teams in the CL I would like to see Liverpool win, I would prefer to see ‘pool in the Top four with us and West Brom and Stoke 🙂 but that doesn’t hide the fact that this summer your transfer goals indicate a cash shortage which is leading to short termism.

    So my main points are Rafa’s reputation is damaged over the Barry affair and our current transfer targets indicate a se change in the future potential of your club. I agree with most of what you guys have said in response to my previous posts but these comments remain unanswered.

  7. Shoddy Journalism….just another example of a hypocritical sad Villa fan. U say its obvious it came from Barrys agent Alex Black. You see u all make me sick….u know it wasnt Liverpool who leaked it but rather that admit it was anyone from ur crappy club u decide to try and blame someone else. Truth is lads your a mid-table outfit and Barry has ambition to come to a proper footballing team. I used to like your team and Martin O’Niell alot until this stuff. O’Neill has proved what a sad little individual he is. Rafa has handled it all with dignity and proven that hes the better man. So why doesnt everyone from your club do us all a favour and be quiet. You are all liars. By the way 18 million for Barry. No way. Hes on par with Alonso. If we sell Alonso for 15….Barry is worth 15!!!! The only reason we want him is he is a better premier league player.

  8. The Shirt Deal Villa are doing if it is for Charity, i would recomend that all clubs should get involved with a local Charity and do the same!!

    All i have heard about is O´Neil gassing on about the Barry deal since the begining, most clubs will want to do Transfer Business Quietly, this is still the way with LFC, unfortunalty our “hand” was revealed to the Press by a 3rd party, it was not the fault of LFC or Rafa.

    18mil is to much for Barry, but if Liverpool fc get him i think he would be a great asset and help us get the title. I understand why Villa fans are angry as this is no ordinary player wanting to leave, this is their Captain wanting out, i was really angry when we nearly lost Gerrard to Chelsea so i think every Liverpool fan will understand the Villa fans bitterness and anger with what is being played out in the press!! It is the Press who are having a field day over all, this they have got there big story. Liverpool and Villa were thrown in the pot together by the press to see what would come of it, and they got there reaction, Two clubs at war with each other, and one player in the middle of it all, Only because he wanted to play Champions League…thats all, it wasn´t about the performance of Villa in the League, so all i would say is back off Gareth Barry, he didn´t take it lightly being your club captain, so you can imagine what dilemas he had deciding to move away from Villa to Liverpool fc.

    If we pull out of a deal for Barry now it would be a bad move, and i would feel sorry for Barry as he would have to face all the anger from a hostile stadium and i wouldn´t wish that on anyone, so to all you Villa fans if he stays don´t be to hard on him!!

  9. Hmmm…

    I think it’s obvious there have been a few ‘faux pas’ on both sides.

    1 – O’Neill caused all this trouble, he was the first to give direct quotes, and then updated the nation daily on BBC during the Euro’s.

    2 – Jim, sorry but the charity sponsorship is a good move.

    3 – Villa fans, you do seem very bitter. I’m sorry for that.

    4 – Why has their been some snake-like remarks about our clubs so called demise? Consider this…
    Man U’s best player wants to leave (Ronaldo)….
    Chelsea’s best players want to leave (Drogba, Lampard)
    Arsenals best players wants to leave (Adebayor, Hleb)

    Liverpools best players…oh…they all want to stay.

    So how can you suggest our club is on the slide? When Benitez took over we finished around 40 points off the top….

    Last season…11 points….That’s a 29 point improvement. More than what O’Neill can offer in a similar time frame.

    We’ve also had our highest ever PL points tally under Benitez.

    Don’t forget an FA Cup, a Champions League, and some other lesser trophies.

    Also remind yourselves our youth team won the FA youth cup back to back and our reserves dominated their league.

    So, remarks about LFC being ‘ready to be overtaken’…I’m sorry but that all comes across as a somewhat uneducated footballing opinion.

    I’m sorry your best player is being handled in this way,I’d hate it if our best player was being touted about…but…

    You’ll get over it.


  10. The Barry saga drags on, possibly because the money is not in place yet as the Manager is having to generate his own transfer budget? I cannot see how Barry can be worth more than Alonso, and I will be sorry to see such an acomplished professional leave LFC. O’Niel seems to have some of his values topsy turvy, he rates Barry at 18Mil and Finan at 1Mil, this must be Irish economics.
    With all the news of Ronaldo a little thing called ethics seems to have been forgotted, didn’t Ronaldo sign a conteact? and is paid a rather large sum each week.
    I don’t see Ronaldo as a slave but an arrogant, egocentric, silly person with no sense of what it means to sign an agreement. If MU wanted to get rid of him and he didn’t want to go, would he be making all of these outlandish statements?

  11. @ Panchovilla

    ‘Now Rafa has got a big problem, if he doesn’t pay the asking price, his reputation outside Liverpool will be shot to pieces. His reputation in the squad will be damaged too. If he doesn’t reach 4th at least next season then Gerrard may well be off. Maybe historians will look at this affair as the beginning of the end for Rafa and the current success of Liverpool ‘

    Such are the problems faced by top managers. MON just has to keep you lot mid table for it to be deemed a succesful season

  12. @ST. Chris,
    The point is that 18 months after David Moores sold the club to new owners who would take it to the “next level” of development, Liverpool FC is skint, relying on borrowed money to build the new stadium and the sale of players to purchase new ones. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “We’ve all been conned”
    The redevelopment of the club is NOT going as planned and in view of the lack of direction and momentum the rot could easily set in.

  13. @Jofrad,

    I was talking exclusively of Benitez’ work at the club and not Liverpool’s ‘off the pitch’ development, or lack of.

  14. @ Ken Chistian

    If Ronaldo incurred a career threatening injury over the summer and Real say ‘forget about it’ would Ronaldo be looking to ManU to honour his contract.

    Blatter’s hatred for Euro football and specifically the premiership clouds his miniscule knowledge of the game.

    What are contracts for, if not an agreement between two parties to work together. If he didn’t want to be at Manu for 4 years, why sign a contract for 4 years.

    Oh christ after signing on to an LFC website to see Villa fans crying about one sided posts, i find myself discussing Manu.

    I’m off to find Villa websites praising Benitez for his handling of the Barry situation.

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