Barry Deal Still Possible?

August 2, 2008 6:04am CST
Gareth Barry is said to remain hopeful of securing his desired move to Liverpool, though the Villa skipper has not yet backed his wish by formally asking his employers for a transfer, no doubt mindful that such action would jeopardise his ’loyalty’ bonus. Nevertheless, there is sufficient confusion surrounding the transfer to justify Barry’s belief that a deal could still be struck between the two teams. According to the Belfast Telegraph, in a detailed analysis of negotiations, the 27-year-old midfielder joined up with his team-mates at Villa's Bodymoor Heath training ground yesterday, still coming to terms with Villa’s statement, issued at 17.05 on Wednesday, announcing that Liverpool had failed to meet a mutually agreed deadline the transfer. That deadline had been set for 17.00 that day. Villa boss Martin O’Neill was clearly anxious to rush out the statement at the earliest opportunity, expressing delight that Barry would now be staying at Villa Park. Just ten minutes later, it was reported, Liverpool came up with their bid structured in the way Villa had requested. Indeed, it seems Liverpool were stunned by O’Neill’s announcement, as they were about to inform the Birmingham-based club that they could deliver the deal. Sources at Anfield have indicated that they were told, late on Tuesday afternoon, that they must pay for Barry in fewer instalments than they had proposed (two rather than three). That left them with 24 hours to put the finances in place if they were to meet the Villa deadline, but crucially involved securing the approval of co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to disburse larger instalments for Barry. The two American businessmen had apparently agreed to this when Villa announced that the deadline had been missed, ending the matter. Villa insist that no deal for Barry had been struck, and say the only communications between the two clubs on Tuesday and Wednesday were a fax from Villa Park to Anfield on Tuesday morning setting out the deadline, which Liverpool acknowledged, and a telephone conversation between the Reds’ chief executive, Rick Parry, and his Villa counterpart, Randy Lerner, on Wednesday morning. Villa also say that Liverpool did not dispute the time-frame or request an extension before the 17.00 deadline passed. The West Midlands club also deny that £17.5million plus Liverpool right-back Steve Finnan had been offered in exchange for Barry. The question now - especially for Barry - is where do we go from here? One obvious problem is that O’Neill has effectively painted himself into a corner: should any deal be agreed for Barry now, the Ulsterman will have to eat some humble pie. Liverpool, though, seem sensitive to this. Though no doubt dismayed by Villa’s precipitate action in issuing that statement, they have been careful not to inflame a sensitive situation by making statements of their own. As for Barry, he knows that a new £60,000-a-week deal from Villa is on offer to him, linked to the promise of a lucrative testimonial after 10 years at the club. But he is unhappy with the way Villa have acted in response to his wish to leave them. The Belfast Telegraph wrote that when it was put to Barry during a meeting with O'Neill and Lerner on Monday of this week that a 48-hour deadline would be set, the play felt he had no alternative but to agree to it. His understanding is that a fee for his signature was agreed on Tuesday morning and that Villa insisted on a different payment structure on Tuesday afternoon, effectively sabotaging the deal. At the moment, Villa show no inclination to revisit the saga. As far as they are concerned, they have drawn a line under it and Barry stays with them. O’Neill, though, will be wary of having Barry, disaffected and unhappy with the club, in his dressing-room and unlikely to be mentally attuned to a new campaign with Villa. As for the player himself, he could always force the issue and actually ask for the transfer he clearly craves…
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