Rafael Benitez, Martin O’Neill, Patrik Berger, Steven Gerrard and even Stan Collymore have all had their say on the on-going saga of Gareth Barry’s future and whether he should stay at Aston Villa for an 11th season or choose to make the step up to join Liverpool.
But now it seems the player himself is about to break his very dignified silence on the subject having told Villa manager O’Neill that he wants to go to Anfield and chance his arm in the Champions League.
The 27-year-old Villa skipper’s agent Alex Black has said that the England star, who scored his debut goal for his country against Trinidad & Tobago this month, has finally made his own views known after promising to make a decision after his summer duties with England.
The announcement that Barry wants to leave in search of an instant fix of Champions League football will come as little surprise to Villa supporters who realised Barry was considering a future away from Villa Park back in April.
At the time he said it was time for him to be “selfish” after ten years of loyal service at the club, adding every player dreamed of playing Champions League football at his stage of their career.
Despite a huge effort on the part of O’Neill to try to persuade his “Captain Fantastic” to stay, Black says the England star has made up his mind that he wants to join good friend Steven Gerrard at Liverpool.
Barry, who has made almost 400 appearances for the Lions, is due a testimonial match this year for his services in claret and blue.
Black said: “Gareth has spoken to Martin since he returned from England’s game in Trinidad and told him how he feels. At this stage of his career Gareth wants to be playing Champions League football and believes this is his chance to do it.”
Reds skipper Gerrard recently admitted that he was ‘desperate’ for his friend and England lynch-pin to join him at Anfield and with Benitez last night confirming his future at Anfield it now appears not so much a matter of if Barry goes but when.
O’Neill, however, is expected to stick to his guns and demand a £15 million cash only deal for his player.
Figures produced by Kop Holdings Ltd show Liverpool lost £33 million loss in the period up until July 31 last year While this summer’s transfer budget had already been catered for in the January refinancing package, Benitez must still sell to generate further funds.
The Spanish boss, who will fund the move for Barry from the sale of Xabi Alonso to Juventus, said: “I said at the end of the season that I was very happy here and I will say it again. The supporters have been absolutely magnificent with me, the staff are working very hard and I would not have brought players like Fernando Torres and the young players we have here if I did not have a long term vision for the club.
“Now is not the time to be saying goodbye!”
Villa fans no doubt will feel otherwise.