Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez wants quality midfielder, hints at Barry

August 9, 2008 6:47am CST
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said Friday he needs to add one more quality midfielder to his squad before the season starts next weekend, and suggested Gareth Barry remains the answer to his problems. The transfer of the Aston Villa captain has been stalled for more than two months, with two offers rejected because the Reds failed to meet their Premier League rival's asking price. After Liverpool's 1-0 friendly victory over Lazio on Friday night, a clearly frustrated Benitez hinted that Barry was still his main target but would not name him. "He's English, he can play in three different positions, but I'm not talking about him, we are talking about a player that can play on the left," Benitez said. But as a reporter said "Barry can play in", Benitez continued, "three different positions - it's a positive thing, but I'm talking about one player I don't say the name." Benitez said it "wasn't a question of money" why the transfer was stalling - an apparent indication of concerns within the club about the wisdom of signing the 27-year-old Barry, who lacks resale value, for a large sum. Even so, the club does have financial issues with work already begun on a costly new stadium and significant debt under co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr.. "Maybe we will sign one more player if we can," the Spaniard said. "I don't know when, but clearly we have problems on the left (of midfield)." John Arne Riise and Harry Kewell have been sold, Sebastian Leto has been loaned to Olympiakos for one year due to work permit issues, Fabio Aurelio is sidelined and Benitez fears Ryan Babel could return injured from the Olympics. Villa turned down two offers from Liverpool and was rumoured to be holding out for 18 million pounds (C$36.9 million), but Liverpool didn't return with an improved bid and bought Ireland captain Robbie Keane for a similar price. Liverpool had hoped to sell Xabi Alonso to Juventus to raise Barry's transfer fee, but negotiations with Juventus collapsed. During Friday's night's match, Liverpool fans backed the status quo, singing Alonso's praises but chanting obscenities about Barry.
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